An Oklahoma judge ruled on Monday that a lawsuit seeking reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre could proceed.
According to the Associated Press, Tulsa County District Court Judge Caroline Wall made her ruling against a motion to dismiss the suit.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, attorney for the survivors, said that it is critical for the three living survivors of the 1921 massacre Lessie Benningfield Randle, 107, Viola Fletcher, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, 101, to receive justice.
“We want them to see justice in their lifetime. I’ve seen so many survivors die in my 20-plus years working on this issue. I just don’t want to see the last three die without justice. That’s why the time is of the essence,” Solomon-Simmons said.
Solomon-Simmons sued under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law. He argued that the actions of the white mob that killed hundreds of Black residents and destroyed the prosperous Black business district in 1921 continue to affect the city today.
“Historic Mt. Zion was burnt down to the ground, and that church had to rebuild and had to pay two mortgages off at the same time. That is what this case is about. That is the harm. You just don’t understand what we had to do to thread the needle on this public nuisance case, but we did it,” Solomon-Simmons said.
George Drew, a descendent of one of the race massacre survivors, said, “There has been other nationalities that has been repatriated. I feel that the black community has been left out over the years. Tulsa has been making some changes, but it’s not enough.”
Viola Fletcher (107), Hughes Van Ellis (101), and Lessie Benningfield Randle (107) are escorted out of the courtroom. Van Ellis applauds. They’ve waited over a century for a day in court after surviving the massacre. They’ve never been compensated or given restitution. pic.twitter.com/ucs6CHK4xd
— Chris Polansky (@ChrisKPolansky) May 2, 2022
Related Story: Descendants Of Tulsa Race Massacre Demand Reparations…Again
“History was made today…We got a lot of work to do to prove, and we can prove it, we will prove it, but I appreciate her giving us the opportunity to show that we had the necessary information to move past a motion to dismiss,” Solomon-Simmons said.
The lawsuit calls for the creation of a hospital in north Tulsa, in addition to mental health and education programs and a Tulsa Massacre Victims Compensation Fund and also seeks reparations for descendants of victims of the massacre.