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Oklahoma Supreme Court Dismisses Tulsa Massacre Lawsuit

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  hallux  •  one month ago  •  43 comments

By:    Audra D. S. Burch - NYT

Oklahoma Supreme Court Dismisses Tulsa Massacre Lawsuit

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




A historic quest for justice by the last two known survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre ended with a state court ruling on Wednesday.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court   affirmed   a lower court’s dismissal of their lawsuit, the final legal stop for Lessie Benningfield Randle, 109, and Viola Ford Fletcher, 110.

The women, who were small children at the time, argued that the destruction of what was then known as Black Wall Street and the massacre of up to 300 African Americans by a white mob amounted to an ongoing public nuisance, and they sought reparations.

The ruling concludes the lawsuit that Ms. Randle and Ms. Fletcher filed in 2020. Last year, another survivor of the massacre, Hughes Van Ellis, the younger brother of Ms. Fletcher, died at 102.





The justices ruled that the plaintiffs’ grievances, including any lingering economic and social impact of the massacre, “do not fall within the scope of our state’s public nuisance statute” and do not support a claim for reparations.


“The continuing blight alleged within the Greenwood community born out of the Massacre implicates generational-societal inequities that can only be resolved by policymakers — not the courts,” the ruling states.

In the early part of the 20th century, the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa was a cultural and economic success story that came to be known as Black Wall Street. On May 31, 1921, a white mob gathered outside a county courthouse in Tulsa where a young Black man was being held over allegations that he had assaulted a young white woman.

White men deputized by the civil officials assaulted the neighborhood from the ground and the sky.   Within two days, Greenwood was no more : 35 city blocks were reduced to heaping ashes, up to 300 of its citizens were dead and thousands were left homeless. The attack erased generational wealth that had been built at a time of great racial oppression.

No person or entity was ever held responsible, and no survivors were compensated for their losses.



The lawsuit , filed under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law, contended that the massacre’s impact continues to be felt acutely more than a century later. Damario Solomon-Simmons, the lead lawyer for the survivors, said the city’s enduring racial disparities, economic inequalities, and trauma among survivors and their descendants are evidence of the massacre’s long reach.





State and local officials have argued that while the massacre was horrific, they should not be held accountable for events that happened in 1921.

The lawsuit named the Tulsa County sheriff, county commissioners and the Oklahoma Military Department, which administers the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guard as defendants.

Judge Caroline Wall, a district court judge, who had ruled in May 2022 that the case   could proceed , dismissed it in July 2023 on procedural grounds. Lawyers for the city argued that “simply being connected to a historical event does not provide a person with unlimited rights to seek compensation from any project in any way related to that historical event.”



The following month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court   agreed to hear an appeal   of the lower court’s dismissal. On April 2, Mr. Solomon-Simmons stood before the nine justices and asked that the case be allowed to proceed. Ms. Fletcher and Ms. Randle attended the proceeding.

“On the one side, you have 109-year-old plaintiffs who are the last two survivors of the massacre,” he said. “On the other side, you have the perpetrators of the massacre who for 103 years have escaped any liability and who deny to this day that they caused the destruction which these survivors witnessed with their own eyes.”





Lawyers representing the defendants argued that the two survivors lacked standing and that in 1921 when the massacre occurred, governmental agencies involved were shielded from liability by sovereign immunity.




In a joint statement issued before the April 2 hearing, Ms. Randle and Ms. Fletcher said, “We are grateful that their now-weary bodies have held on long enough to witness an America, and an   Oklahoma , that provides race massacre survivors with the opportunity to access the legal system.”

“Many have come before us who have knocked and banged on the courthouse doors, only to be turned around.”

In an interview with The New York Times before her legal team filed one of its final court motions last year, Ms. Randle said justice was overdue.

“I would like to see justice," she said from her Tulsa residence in November. “It’s past time. I would like to see this all cleared up and we go down the right road. But I do not know if I will ever see that.”







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Hallux
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    one month ago

The ruling:

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
1.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago

What's your opinion of the ruling?

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Greg Jones @1.1    one month ago
What's your opinion of the ruling?

A whole lot of folks are playing pass the burro. "The Law is an ass", Mr. Bumble (Oliver Twist), and those who write them are donkey's asses.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @1    one month ago

I'm pretty sure there's a 2 year statute of limitations on killing minorities in that conservative xtian goober state... /s

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
1.2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  devangelical @1.2    one month ago

Of the 9 judges 4 are dem and 5 are repub ... although these days everyone is their opposite. There was only one dissenter and that was in part.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.2.2  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @1.2    one month ago

Pretty sure that is wildly inaccurate.

Pretty sure you can't find a law like that on the books there.

If truth matters any more.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.3  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @1.2.2    one month ago

I tagged my comment as sarcasm...

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.2.4  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @1.2.3    one month ago

True sarcasm should contain at least a kernel of truth.

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
1.2.5  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @1.2.4    one month ago

 
 
 
Krishna
Professor Expert
2  Krishna    one month ago

Food for thought:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” 

– George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man.

 
 
 
Robert in Ohio
Professor Guide
3  Robert in Ohio    one month ago

Oklahoma Civil Statute of Limitations Laws - FindLaw

Oklahoma Civil Statute of Limitations: At a Glance

In most instances, Oklahoma plaintiffs have a two-year limit from the date of the incident in which to file a lawsuit. Exceptions include defamation (libel or slander) at one year, five years for rent and debt collection or written contracts, and three years for judgments and oral contracts.

The main provisions of Oklahoma's civil statute of limitations are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's  Injury Law Basics  section for more information about filing a lawsuit.

Injury to Person

Two years ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(3) )

Defamation (Libel/Slander)

One year ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(4) )

Fraud

Two years ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(3) )

Injury to Personal Property

Two years ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(3) )

Professional Malpractice

Two years ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(3) )

Trespass

Two years ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(3) )

Collection of Rents

Contracts

Collection of Debt on Account

Judgments

Three years for foreign judgment ( Okla. Stat. tit. 12 § 95(2) )
 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.1  devangelical  replied to  Robert in Ohio @3    one month ago

I don't see murder listed, unless murder of non-whites is still considered a property crime in that xtian goober shit hole...

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.1  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @3.1    one month ago

What exactly do you find funny about it?

 
 
 
Robert in Ohio
Professor Guide
3.1.2  Robert in Ohio  replied to  devangelical @3.1    one month ago

As most people are aware, there is no statute of limitations on the crime of homicide, this is a civil suit if you take the time to read the article.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Robert in Ohio @3.1.2    one month ago

Then why didn't you list it?

jrSmiley_80_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @3.1    one month ago

jrSmiley_97_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4  Vic Eldred    one month ago

To be filed under excusing the innocent for crimes of long ago.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1  Kavika   replied to  Vic Eldred @4    one month ago
To be filed under excusing the innocent for crimes of long ago.

Long ago the person (s) that killed 300 human beings because of their color, destroyed their homes and businesses and took their future were not charged, nor were anyone for the next 100 years and the massacre was pretty much kept a secret. So if you whitewash a crime as hideous as the Tulsa Race Massacre the courts and their supporters can claim innocence much like Pontius Pilate. 

At this same time the ''Murders of the Flower Moon'' were taking place down the road, known as the ''Reign of Terror'' dozens of Osage Indians were killed for their head rights to their oil, most of the murders remain unsolved with the exception of Hale who was sentenced to life to be pardoned in 20 or so years.

Those white folks in Oklahoma sure were jealous of any minority that was successful, but our courts have granted absolution for the crimes then and now.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kavika @4.1    one month ago
So if you whitewash a crime as hideous as the Tulsa Race Massacre the courts and their supporters can claim innocence much like Pontius Pilate. 

There is no whitewash. It is all part of history.  There is, however, total innocence for everyone alive today.  

Sorry Kavika, those are the facts.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @4.1    one month ago

Which persons did the courts grant absolution to?

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.3  Kavika   replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.1    one month ago
Sorry Kavika, those are the facts.

The facts are 300 killed homes and business destroyed along with generations of wealth and culture and humanity.

Those are the facts, Vic.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.4  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.2    one month ago
Which persons did the courts grant absolution to?

To the guilty by not prosecuting them, a cloud of cowardice hangs over the tragic event.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.5  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @4.1.4    one month ago
To the guilty by not prosecuting them, a cloud of cowardice hangs over the tragic event.

Unless a court adjudicated a case, or released someone without trial, the court had little to do with it and certainly didn't grant absolution as claimed.

While tragic, the events occurred long ago, and holding people today responsible for events they weren't even around for seems ludicrous at best and foolish.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.6  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.5    one month ago
While tragic, the events occurred long ago, and holding people today responsible for events they weren't even around for seems ludicrous at best and foolish.
Two days after the riot, the mayor wasted no time in establishing the Reconstruction Committee to redesign the Greenwood District for industrial purposes. Blacks were offered below market value for their property. White men who offered “almost any price for their property” perceived survivors as desperate and destitute.

To believe that the whites didn't profit from this is pure foolishness, which would mean that generations of whites profited from the massacre. 

Since no whites were arrested nor tried for this crime absolution came in that form. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4.1.7  Tessylo  replied to  Kavika @4.1.3    one month ago

It matters nothing to some.  They were the wrong color.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
4.1.8  CB  replied to  Kavika @4.1.6    one month ago

They would not even let the residences rebuild there. History is a 'mother.' I have read some of the accounts of what happened to some of the victims of this massacre-it is 'unspeakable.' But, to this day, the shameless prevail at being so-through their children. The accounts may not be a matter for any court today. . .but when you read them they have the ring of truth.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4.1.9  Tessylo  replied to  Kavika @4.1    one month ago

How deplorable

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4.1.10  Tessylo  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1.1    one month ago

A whitewash is exactly what it is.

Deplorable.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.11  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @4.1.6    one month ago
To believe that the whites didn't profit from this is pure foolishness, which would mean that generations of whites profited from the massacre.  Since no whites were arrested nor tried for this crime absolution came in that form. 

Now you assigning beliefs to me that I have never expressed. That's a weak tactic.

You clearly stated the courts granted absolution, but have failed to prove your claim.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
4.1.12  CB  replied to  Kavika @4.1    one month ago

Reading about the "head rights" and the schemes used to take BACK land given to Native Americans by hook and crook. One such scheme involved white spouses going so far as a slowly poisoning their Native American spouses (and their offspring) in order to takeover control of ownership of oil rich properties owned by NAs. Whites. . .that murdered their own interracial children for ill-gotten theft of land.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.13  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.11    one month ago
Now you assigning beliefs to me that I have never expressed. That's a weak tactic.

I never assigned any beliefs to you, making that accusation is a BS tactic when you have no response. 

You clearly stated the courts granted absolution, but have failed to prove your claim.

As stated they provided absolution by no arrests, trials or convictions. Simple as that.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.14  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @4.1.13    one month ago
I never assigned any beliefs to you, making that accusation is a BS tactic when you have no response.

Okay, let's pretend these aren't your exact words:

To believe that the whites didn't profit from this is pure foolishness, which would mean that generations of whites profited from the massacre. 

Either you are assigning beliefs to me or it is nothing more than a straight strawman argument based on absolutely nothing I have ever said.

And my post is clearly a response to you despite your false claim I didn't have one.

As stated they provided absolution by no arrests, trials or convictions. Simple as that.

Name a single court anywhere in America that has the power to arrest someone not before it (contempt of court) , hold a trial for people not indicted or arrested, or convict someone not on trial.

I didn't claim the courts provided absolution, you did.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4.1.15  Kavika   replied to  Texan1211 @4.1.14    one month ago
Either you are assigning beliefs to me or it is nothing more than a straight strawman argument based on absolutely nothing I have ever said.

You are really stretching with that nonsense. The comments were about the Tulsa riots and the aftermath so the whites who would have profited and the generations after were those involved in the killings and destruction. Are you claiming that your ancestors were part of the murderous clan that destroyed ''Black Wall Street''?

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.1.16  Texan1211  replied to  Kavika @4.1.15    one month ago
You are really stretching with that nonsense.

No, I am responding directly to what YOU posted.

Did I ever say anything about believing whites not benefitting from the massacre?

All I did was point out the error of your claim that the courts granted absolution.

Are you claiming that your ancestors were part of the murderous clan that destroyed ''Black Wall Street''?

Of course not--as easily seen from reading what I do write.

Are you claiming your ancestors were the victims in this massacre?

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
4.1.17  CB  replied to  Kavika @4.1    one month ago

The white officials of the time in Oklahoma, I have read, even went so far as to (scheme) hatch and execute a "formula" to claw-back land given to Native Americans in agreements . . .based on the scheme 'tinkering' around the edges of the land used by NAs and 'left-over' land was given to White settlers (on Indian land). Thereabouts

Excerpt: 

The tribe’s oil wealth attracted hordes of white, marriage-minded suitors. According to McAuliffe, “single Osage women became objects of hot pursuit,” prompting a “flood” of letters to the Osage Agency seeking oil-rich brides, sight unseen. C.T. Plimer of Joplin, Missouri wrote a typical missive: “I…want a good Indian girl for a wife… For every Five Thousand Dollars she is worth, I will give you Twenty Five Dollars. If she is worth 25,000 you would get $125 if I got her.”

According to Grann, one white woman married to an Osage man told a reporter how locals would openly scheme: “A group of traders and lawyers sprung up who selected certain Indians as their prey. They owned all the officials… These men had an understanding with each other. They cold-bloodedly said, ‘You take So-and-So, So-and-So and So-and-So and I’ll take these.’ They selected Indians who had full headrights and large farms.” 

The murders of Mollie Burkhart’s family members, one after another between 1918 and 1923, constitute an appalling case of marital greed and malice, given the complicity of her husband Ernest. Her mother, three sisters, a brother-in-law and a cousin all died in that time, by bullets, bombing or possible poisoning. Mollie and her son only narrowly avoided being at her sister’s home when it exploded. Several concerned white locals who promised to seek help from the feds also turned up dead—one thrown from a train, another brutally stabbed outside a D.C. billiards hall.

Mollie became her family’s sole survivor and headright holder. As she grieved and sought answers, her husband Ernest began slowly tainting her daily insulin injections with poison , prodded by his scheming uncle and aided by a pair of corrupt doctors. 

The Bureau of Investigation (later renamed the FBI) finally launched a probe and succeeded in uncovering the vast murderous conspiracy. At the center stood Ernest Burkhart’s uncle, William K. Hale, a prominent land baron. According to the investigation, the self-styled pillar of the community and “best friend” to the Osage secretly employed his nephew and others to execute Mollie’s kin—and widely colluded with local officials to cover it all up over a period of years. He and Burkhart received life sentences. Both were ultimately paroled.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
5  CB    one month ago

Well, under the cover of law and with as many lies as they needed to tell and convince themselves of their right to do it, the supremacists in Tulsa did it and got away with it. It is a prime reason that many blacks and other minorities still to this day do not put all their trust in some whites. The deception ('forked tongue') treatment of minorities by certain groups of whites is an old 'sore' though scabbed over yet is 'tender' and guarded.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
5.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  CB @5    one month ago

It is a prime reason that many blacks and other minorities still to this day do not put all their trust in some whites

 My friends  grandfather,  while on his lunch break as a painter, was murdered by a black gang during the race riot of 1919. Should he mistrust blacks? Should his descendants? How many generations must pass before his family can trust black people? 

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
5.1.1  CB  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1    one month ago

How the hell you fix your hand to write about somebody's grandfather - sad and anecdotal (we all have our 'run-ins' with individual wrongs) as it is, has nothing to do with city/state sanctioned wrongs committed against a class of people. 

For that matter, I mistrust some black people starting with Clarence Thomas, continuing with my pissed off attitude to this day with the 'brother' who many years ago slept with me and then threatened to turn me in to the military (I was in the service at the time) unless I paid him. (I did not, but to this day I do not forgive him for trying). We all have our personal accounts, but do not confuse the personal with the public, official, and capitol.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
5.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1    one month ago

That has absolutely nothing to do with anything.  

Makes no difference anyway

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
5.1.3  Sean Treacy  replied to  CB @5.1.1    one month ago
as nothing to do with city/state sanctioned wrongs committed against a class of people. 

you are the one who claimed this incident from a century ago causes some minorities not to trust whites, not the government.  

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
5.1.4  CB  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1.3    one month ago

Let me put it this way. . . blacks/minorities have been told and can read about the wrongs done by supremacists in our pasts. . . and it lays a foundation of warning signs and flashing lights all its own for times (such as we are in now) when we read recent articles, see the SCOTUS opining about 'originalism,' and have presidents running on slogans: 'Make American Great Again" while sending out black conservative surrogates speaking aspirationally, and implying blacks were a 'more cohesive family unit' when Jim Crow was the order of the day.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
7  CB    one month ago

American Terror

A century ago in Tulsa, a murderous mob attacked the most prosperous black community in the nation

At 5:08 a.m. on June 1, 1921, a whistle pierced the predawn quiet of Tulsa, Oklahoma. There was disagreement later about whether the sound came from a steam engine on the railroad tracks or from a factory in the center of the booming oil town, but there was no doubting its meaning. It was the signal for as many as 10,000 armed white Tulsans, some dressed in Army uniforms from their service in World War I, to attack the place known as Greenwood, the city’s uniquely prosperous African American community. “From every place of shelter up and down the tracks came screaming, shouting men to join in the rush toward the Negro section,” a white witness named Choc Phillips later remembered. By dawn, “machine guns were sweeping the valley with their murderous fire,” recalled a Greenwood resident named Dimple Bush. “Old women and men and children were running and screaming everywhere.”

The trouble had begun the day before. A black teenage shoeshine boy named Dick Rowland had been arrested and charged with assaulting a white girl in an elevator of a downtown Tulsa building. Even white police detectives thought the accusation dubious. The consensus later was that whatever happened between them was innocuous, perhaps that Rowland had stepped on the toe of young Sarah Page when the elevator lurched. But that was academic after the Tulsa Tribune, one of the city’s two white newspapers, ran an incendiary editorial under a headline residents remembered as “To Lynch Negro Tonight.”

That evening, black community leaders met in the Greenwood newspaper office of A.J. Smitherman to discuss a response. Already a white mob had gathered outside the courthouse where Rowland was being held. Some African American leaders counseled patience, citing the promise of Sheriff Willard McCullough to protect Rowland. Others wouldn’t hear of it. A cadre of about 25 black residents, some in their own Army uniforms and carrying rifles, shotguns, pistols, axes, garden hoes and rakes, drove south from Greenwood and marched the final blocks to the courthouse and offered the sheriff their assistance.

. . . .

At about 10:30 p.m., when a second group of 75 or so residents marched to the courthouse, an elderly white man tried to grab the gun of a black World War I veteran. A shot went off during the scuffle. Scores of other shots were fired in the panic that followed. Men, women and children dove for cover behind trees and parked cars, but as many as a dozen people of both races ended up dead.

The black marchers retreated to Greenwood. A lull set in after 2 a.m., but tensions rose in the hours of darkness. Then the whistle rang out. Armed black residents hiding on the rooftops of the sturdy brown-brick buildings lining Greenwood Avenue attempted to repel the white mob. But the mob not only had superior numbers; it also had machine guns, which were placed at elevated points on the edge of Greenwood, as well as biplanes, perhaps belonging to a local oil company, which circled overhead and rained bullets and dropped incendiaries .

More and the story continues to tell itself on Smithsonian Mag (see the link above)!

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
8  CB    one month ago

Silence has fallen on this place 'suddenly.' Wonder why.  /s

 
 

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