Tulsa Race Massacre case dismissal upheld

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower-court dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the last three survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, ending their legal battle to hold the government accountable for one of the worst atrocities against Black people committed on U.S. soil in history.

The high court affirmed the district court’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit, which was brought in 2020 by the last two remaining survivors of the massacre — Viola Fletcher, 110, and Lessie Benningfield Randle, 109 — and sought reparations for the harm inflicted. A third survivor, Hughes Van Ellis Sr., died last year at age 102.

The Tulsa County sheriff, county commissioners and the Oklahoma Military Department were all named as defendants in the suit.

Plaintiffs brought the lawsuit under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law, arguing effects continue to be felt today stemming from the actions of the white mob that killed hundreds of Black residents and destroyed what was commonly referred to as “Black Wall Street.”

The plaintiffs cited events that were supported by a report commissioned by the city in 2001, according to attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, The Associated Press reported. The report highlighted that 1,500 homes and businesses were destroyed and never rebuilt.

Officials say that while the events were tragic, they should not be held accountable for events that took place more than 100 years ago. No one has ever been held responsible for the massacre.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.