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GREENWOOD Dist.–A years-long legal effort to secure restitution for the three last known living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has ended after Judge Caroline Wall dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice.
According to court filings posted on Friday, Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall granted City of Tulsa attorneys’ motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning the case can’t be refiled.
“Upon hearing the arguments of counsel and considering the briefs filed by counsel for plaintiffs and counsel for defendants the court respectfully finds and order the plaintiffs’ second amended petition should and shall be dismissed with prejudice,” Judge Wall wrote.
Attorneys for the city of Tulsa had argued that the case should be dismissed because the lawsuit didn’t lay out how Judge Wall should remedy the harm. Meanwhile, attorneys for Justice for Greenwood argued that state law doesn’t require them to provide those answers before a trial has even begun.
The stinging defeat for survivors of one of the most violent racial domestic terrorist attacks against the wealthiest Black community in U.S. history reverberates across Black America. Many were hopeful that a win in Tulsa would set a precedent for other communities harmed by white supremacy.
Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, who leads Justice For Greenwood, previously told The Black Wall Street Times the City of Tulsa was hypocritical for using the story of the survivors for cultural tourism while denying them reparations.
“The city will not even have the decency to acknowledge” the survivors, attorney Solomon-Simmons said.
The lawsuit, which had gotten further than previous efforts, hinged on a state public nuisance law that gives plaintiffs the ability to sue when harm done to an entire community hasn’t been abated, or rectified.
Judge refuses to allow case to go to trial
The judge’s ruling comes after the Justice For Greenwood team, which represents survivors “Mother” Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, “Mother” Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, and “Uncle” Hughes Van Ellis, 102, was forced to remove descendants from the lawsuit following a previous motion to dismiss filed by defendants representing the city, county and state governments.
Hope had remained that the judge would allow the case to at least go to trial, but nearly two months after a May 10 court hearing, in which the judge said she would rule on the case within seven days, Friday’s decision puts an end to an effort for reparations that was over a century in the making.
The defeat for Black Tulsans and Black Americans around the country comes as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction told a group of citizens in Norman, Oklahoma that teachers shouldn’t teach that the Tulsa Race Massacre was about race.
Meanwhile, survivor “Mother” Fletcher has written a memoir, the oldest living person to do so, about her experiences, titled, “Don’t Let Them Bury My Story.”
To view the full court filing, click here.
The Black Wall Street Times has reached out to the Justice For Greenwood team for comment.