100 years after the Tulsa genocide, landmark lawsuits may eventually lead to compensation

The survivors of the 1921 Tulsa genocide and their descendants said that despite decades of efforts, they hope that the landmark lawsuit against Oklahoma City and other defendants will eventually lead to Some form of compensation.

Schulte, Roth and Zabel’s paralegal McKenzie Haynes (McKenzie Haynes) said: “In my opinion, this may be the worst domestic terrorist act we have ever seen.” Solomon Simon Solomon-Simmons in an interview with CBC Radio Sixth day.

“For hundreds of years, black Americans have been hunted and treated as non-human beings, as evidenced by the incident in Tulsa in 1921.”

The massacre began on May 31, 1921, when a group of white mobs landed in the Greenwood district of Tulsa. Earlier, a 19-year-old black shoe polisher Dick Rowland (Dick Rowland) was accused of assaulting a 17-year-old. Sarah Page, the elevator operator. An estimated 300 people were killed in the attack.

some Reports indicate that the rioters were represented Fired by local law enforcement officers, the gang shot and killed black residents and set fire to businesses, houses and churches. First-hand information also suggests Throw away the turpentine or nitroglycerin bombs and shoot them from the plane.

The attack destroyed Greenwood, a black community so prosperous and affluent that Booker T. Washington and Weber Dubois and others called it “Black Wall Street.”

People take pictures on the Black Wall Street mural in the historic Greenwood neighborhood. The area is called Black Wall Street because of its thriving black-owned businesses. (John Rocher/Associated Press)

The plaintiff in the lawsuit filed by Solomon-Simmons in September 2020 is scheduled to make a legal response to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit on June 1.

Previous compensation work, including litigation filed in 2003 Folk activist Johnny Cochrane and Harvard University law professor Charles Ogletree (Charles Ogletree) Blocked due to expiry of the statute of limitations.

“Comprehensive accounting” damages

According to Caleb Gayle, a writer and compatriot at New America magazine, since there has not been a “full accounting” for personal and property damage, only the exact number of people who caused the damage has been estimated so far.

“For me, and for many compensation advocates in Tulsa, the sad thing is that… it’s not difficult to calculate the loss arithmetic at the time,” Gale said. Sixth day The owner Brent Bambury (Brent Bambury).

According to Gale, part of what makes this latest lawsuit different from previous compensation efforts is that it “actually did not call the survivors.”

He said: “They will not pay off the money they owe.”

Watch | “eradicated” from American history:

Damario Solomon-Simmons, a civil rights lawyer representing the last survivor of the Tulsa Massacre, said that black history “has been eradicated from American history.” 7:40

Instead, the lawsuit requires a variety of different measures, including a full accounting of losses, and measures aimed at improving the economic conditions of the community.

Gale said: “They do ask for various things, such as reducing taxes for 99 years.”

“Inequality is huge”

The team behind the latest lawsuit from Human Rights Watch Report 2020 This shows that, among other factors, the quality of life of black Tulsans is lower than that of white Tulsans.

“Their property was taken, businesses were destroyed, people were murdered, families were separated, [north] Tulsa has become a slum,” Haines said, referring to the area where most of the black residents of the city are located.

“Inequality is huge.”

In this file photo taken on June 1, 1921, during the Tulsa massacre, two armed men moved away from the burning building, while other armed men walked in the opposite direction. (Special Collections, McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa/Associated Press)

Haynes said that the latest lawsuit draws on the content of the 2019 ruling, which ordered the US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay US$572 million in exchange for the company’s Exacerbated the state’s opioid crisis.

According to Haynes, Oklahoma has a unique “public nuisance statute”. If there is a “continuous public nuisance”, litigation will far exceed the statute of limitations.

Haynes said: “We want to compare the harm caused by the genocide with public harassment, basically saying that the public harassment caused by the massacre itself has continued to this day.”

Tulsa officials have been reluctant to support compensation for survivors of the Holocaust.

daily Tulsa World Report The city’s Republican Mayor GT Bynum supports efforts to achieve fairness, but he does not support direct cash payments.

mt. During the Holocaust, the Zion Baptist Church in Greenwood was burned down by rioters. (Special Collections, McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa/Associated Press)

Bynum said: “The most commonly mentioned method is to pay some kind of legal judgment from the city’s sinking fund. This raises everyone’s property tax.” He pointed out that the city has already carried out economic activities in northern Tulsa. investment.

Gal said that although he hopes that more attention to the 1921 events will put pressure on the city and state governments to take action, he does not believe that “any legal attempt is sufficient to accomplish anything.”

Nevertheless, there are policy efforts, including Tulsa-Greenwood Massacre Claims Liability Act Currently in front of members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill can help survivors and future generations by providing easier ways to obtain compensation.

Gail said: “There are policy options… and I think policy options may be more likely to be implemented, because we have seen this option adopted elsewhere.”

A sculpture commemorating the Holocaust stands in the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa. (Sue O’Groki/Associated Press)

Written and produced by Sameer Chhabra.

Listen to the entire episode on day 6 CBC listen, Our free audio streaming service.

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