Oklahoma Supreme Court Dismisses Tulsa Race Massacre Lawsuit

(LibertySons.org) – Tulsa was the location of one of the worst massacres against black people in American history. Up to 300 people died in the racial violence. The Oklahoma Supreme recently threw out a case that would have provided the last survivors of the massacre with compensation.

In 2020, Tulsa survivors Viola Fletcher (110), Lessie Benningfield Randle (109), and Hughes Van Ellis (102) filed a lawsuit against the city. Ellis died in 2023. The survivors wanted the city to pay for damages under the public nuisance statute. They also claimed the city was receiving “unjust enrichment” by promoting the massacre site as a tourist attraction but not sharing the money earned with community members.

An Oklahoma district court judge agreed with the city and previously ruled that “being connected to a historical event does not provide a person with unlimited rights to seek compensation.” The survivors appealed to the state Supreme Court, but the high court dismissed the suit.

The justices acknowledged in their ruling that there were inequities created by the Tulsa Race Massacre. But the state Supreme Court explained that they weren’t able to “extend the scope of [Oklahoma’s] public nuisance doctrine beyond” what lawmakers authorized. They went on to say that it “implicates generational-societal inequities that can only be resolved by policymakers.”

The massacre occurred on May 31, 1921, in the 40-square-block Greenwood neighborhood, also known as Black Wall Street. A mob of white people attacked the neighborhood, destroyed businesses, burned down homes, and killed residents. Historic photos of the incident show the neighborhood on fire and victims lying in the streets. In the aftermath, insurance companies refused to pay the black residents when they filed claims. Those claims would be worth tens of millions of dollars today.

The ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court is likely the last stop for the case. The plaintiffs sued in the state courts, which means they won’t be able to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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