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GREENWOOD Dist.–At a press conference on Monday announcing their plans to appeal the dismissal of the Tulsa Race Massacre lawsuit to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, attorneys with Justice for Greenwood shared a letter that the three last living survivors sent to the judge who dismissed their case.
“After taking our case under advisement for the better part of two years, and originally permitting the case to proceed just a year ago, Judge Wall strikingly backpedaled on her prior Order permitting us, the last three living Survivors of the Massacre, to proceed with our public nuisance litigation seeking justice for the continuing harms caused by the Massacre,” wrote “Mother” Viola Ford Fletcher, 109, “Mother” Lessie Benningfield Randle, 108, and “Uncle” Hughes Van Ellis, 102.
On Friday, Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall quietly dismissed the public nuisance lawsuit with prejudice in a brief, minute order posted online. In what attorneys for the survivors have described as unusual, Judge Wall didn’t notify the plaintiffs about her decision. She also hasn’t yet released her full written order. Until she does, the Justice for Greenwood attorneys can’t file their appeal.
“Conservative” Caroline Wall: Judge who deprived Massacre survivors of their day in court
On Twitter, Judge Wall describes herself as a “dedicated public servant & hard working elected Judicial Officer, Strictly Upholding the Constitutional Rights of the People as Written.” Her account shows she only follows three people, one of whom is twice-impeached former President Donald Trump, who incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 following his loss to Joe Biden.
When going to her Twitter page, several users also noticed Judge Wall’s follow suggestions include pages belonging to Confederate groups and Confederate sympathizers.
On an archived campaign page, Judge Wall, who has served as a Tulsa County Associate District Judge since 2003 before becoming District Judge in 2014, considers herself a “Constitutional Conservative.”
In appealing to voters, she said she would rule on cases by exercising justice through “Judeo-Christian values,” “Ensure people’s right to swift justice,” and “protect the rights of victims and juries.”
The years-long case leading up to a dismissal, and Judge Wall’s delay in releasing a written order that would allow attorneys to file their appeal, has led to accusations that Judge Wall seeks to run out the clock until the survivors die.
“We were forced to plead this case beyond what is required under Oklahoma legal standards which is sadly a familiar circumstance when Black Americans ask that the American legal system work for them. And now, Judge Wall has condemned us to languish on Oklahoma’s appellate docket,” the Massacre survivors wrote.
Despite the latest legal hurdle, and with millions around the world watching the unprecedented case, attorneys for Justice for Greenwood and the survivors have vowed to not give up.
Read the full letter from the Massacre survivors to Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall below.
“After taking our case under advisement for the better part of two years, and originally permitting the case to proceed just a year ago, Judge Wall strikingly backpedaled on her prior Order permitting us, the last three living Survivors of the Massacre, to proceed with our public nuisance litigation seeking justice for the continuing harms caused by the Massacre.
Without a doubt, Judge Wall failed to review this case within the scope of well-established black letter Oklahoma law. We were forced to plead this case beyond what is required under Oklahoma legal standards, which is sadly a familiar circumstance when Black Americans ask that the American legal system work for them. And now, Judge Wall has condemned us to languish on Oklahoma’s appellate docket.
But we will not go quietly, and we will continue to fight until our last breaths. Like so many Black Americans, we carry the weight of intergenerational racial trauma day in and day out–a weight we cannot relinquish or cavalierly dismiss.
The dismissal of this case is just one more example of how America’s, and specifically Tulsa’s, legacy of racial harm and distress is disproportionately and unjustly borne by the Black community. Black Americans have not caused racial injustice but bear the burden of righting the wrongs of it–an unfair and heavy burden.
But despite Tulsa’s and America’s attempt to silence, change, and gaslight the facts and truths of our collective racial history and trauma, we, the Survivors, and all those who believe in racial justice, will not sit quietly or passively to allow mistruths and injustice to persist.
We will continue to fight on behalf of and alongside our families, descendants of the Massacre, and our counsel Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and his legal team to affect the change necessary to alleviate the racial burdens set upon our community, and we will not rest until there is Justice for Greenwood.”Letter from Tulsa Race Massacre survivors Viola Ford Fletcher, Lessie Benningfield Randle and Hughes Van Ellis to Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall.
Follow Justice for Greenwood and The Black Wall Street Times for the latest updates on Tulsa Race Massacre survivors and their fight for justice.