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The Justice for Greenwood advocacy group is living up to their name. The group recently filed paperwork requesting a federal investigation into the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which killed hundreds of Black men, women, and children, and still affects hundreds of descendants today.

The group provided a letter to the federal Department of Justice on Tuesday. The letter contained a request for a formal investigation, based on Tulsa’s response to the “massacre’s aftermath and answer questions that have long gone unsolved.”

Attorney Demario Solomon-Simmons is representing the three known survivors, Hughes Van Ellis known as “Uncle Red,” Lessie Benningfield Randle known as “Mother Randle,” and Viola Ford Fletcher, known as “Mother Fletcher.” All three are over 100 years old. 

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Attorney wants to bring DOJ to Tulsa

In a statement, Mr. Solomon-Simmons noted, “We are calling on the DOJ to bring the brawn of the federal government to Tulsa to help heal these century-old wounds by conducting a meaningful and objective investigation into the Massacre.” 

The request was filed a month after the filing of a reparations lawsuit, which addresses the city’s public nuisance statute. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, according to that lawsuit, created a public nuisance which still reverberates among survivors and descendants today. 

Within the public nuisance lawsuit is a request for a victim’s compensation fund, a scholarship fund for descendants, immunity from local taxes, a land trust, a new hospital, an end to the use of images without compensation, and an end to financial gain from Greenwood Rising History Center.

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Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre appeared at a hearing marking the centennial of the 1921 attack in which a white mob attacked residents, homes, and businesses in a predominantly Black Tulsa, Oklahoma, neighborhood. (CSPAN)

The new filing also includes a request to investigate the city’s handling of the search for mass graves stemming from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, of which over 20 have been discovered. 

(Editor’s note: Instead of attempting to settle with survivors and descendants, Tulsa’s attorneys are trying to dismiss the historic lawsuit, even as city leaders paint a false picture of racial unity in the community.)

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...