City of Tulsa sued for Race Massacre-related documents

Mike Seals - April 2, 2021 10:56 am

By Ken Miller

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An attorney who has sued the city of Tulsa for reparations for victims and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre has filed a lawsuit for the release of records related to the massacre and the coming centennial of the attack.

The records request was made in January for documents that include references to the 1921 massacre and internment camps where Blacks were held following the massacre, and records referencing the Black Tulsa community between 1908-1921, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in state court by Tulsa attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.

Also sought are records of destruction in the Greenwood District during the massacre; records of personal property taken from the area; insurance claims related to the massacre; and records related to the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and a history center in the district.

“Plaintiff seeks these documents in connection with the upcoming Centennial” of the attack that killed an estimated 300 mostly Black people and wounded 800 more, the lawsuit states.

“The documents are crucial to provide an accurate public accounting of the Massacre, and will assist plaintiff in its research, writing, and responses to interview and public speaking requests to commemorate and memorialize the Massacre, its victims and its ongoing impact,” according to the lawsuit.

A city spokesperson said Thursday that the city does not typically comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit also claims Gerald Bender, the city’s litigation division manager, interfered with the city’s obligation to release the records because Simmons represents massacre survivors and others who are suing the city for reparations.

“(G)iven the fact that your firm currently represents parties adverse to the City in on-going litigation you are respectfully advised to immediately discontinue contact with our clients (the City Clerk),” the lawsuit states that Bender wrote.

Solomon-Simmons in September filed a lawsuit on behalf of victims and their descendants affected by the massacre seeking unspecified monetary damages and attorneys fees.



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