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Judge Rules Against Survivors of the Tulsa Massacre

Viola Ford Fletcher with Hughes Von Ellis, survivors if the Tulsa Massacre

An Oklahoma judge rejected demands for reparations resulting from the 1920 Tulsa Massacre in which more than 300 Blacks were killed, and hundreds were left homeless following an attack led by Whites of the Greenwood Neighborhood, also known as Black Wall Street.

The lawsuit was brought by a Black man and two Black Women over the age of 102 who were children at the time.

Lewis Bennington Randle, 108, Viola Fletcher, 109, and Hughes Van Ellis,102, sued Tulsa because the city refused to recover from the plaintiff’s unjust treatment.

The City of Tulsa called for the dismissal of the lawsuit, and Judge Caroline Wall agreed.

Judge Wall dismissed the lawsuit prejudice, which man the plaintiffs could not bring the lawsuit again.

Ike Howard, the grandson of Viola Fletcher, said he was angry about the ruling, “They were blighted and once again not made whole,” Howard said. "We remain blighted. We wish the D.O.J would investigate. … How can we get justice in the same city that created the nuisance? Is justice only for the rich?”

A family attorney is expected to address the possibility of an appeal.

It started this way with a White woman’s tears.

On the morning of May 30, 1921, a young black man named Dick Rowland was riding in the elevator in the Drexel Building at Third and Main white woman named Sarah Page.

Tulsa police arrested Rowland the following day and began an investigation. An inflammatory report in the May 31 edition of the Tulsa Tribune spurred a confrontation between black and white armed mobs around the courthouse where the sheriff and his men had barricaded the top floor to protect Rowland. Shots were fired. African American men pulled out their rifles and fought back, according to the Tulsa Historical Society.

There was no turning of the cheek, but they were eventually overwhelmed.

Whites employed low-flying airplanes to strafed Black-own homes by dropping bombs.

In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Greenwood was looted and burned by white rioters. Governor Robertson declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa.

Guardsmen assisted firemen in putting out fires, took African Americans out of the hands of vigilantes, and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

No one has been tried for the massacre.


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