Race Massacre lawsuit dismissed by State Supreme Court

KTUL - June 14, 2024 5:45 am

“Excuse me I’m losing my voice,” said Mother Fletcher.

Both Mother Fletcher and Mother Randle declined to comment on the State Supreme Court’s ruling against their case, but two candidates they’ve endorsed for office were anything but silent.

“It’s very disappointing, this decision,” said Darryl Knox. He is running for state representative and spent some time with the survivors Wednesday at the Greenwood Cultural Center.

“It was good to be with them, their spirits, their hopes of course is disappointing, but yet they remain hopeful,” he said.

In the 24 page ruling the Supreme Court found that “though Plaintiff’s grievances are legitimate, they do not fall within the scope of our State’s public nuisance statute.”

“I think it’s despicable,” said Rep. Regina Goodwin, who’s running for State senate. She strongly disagrees with the court.

“Quite frankly I think that they’re not only dismissing the lawsuit but they’re dismissing their humanity and Oklahoma is not OK,” she said.

The bottom line from the court, policy makers are the ones to turn to in this situation, not the courts, and Thursday two of the oldest voters in the country will be casting ballots for policy makers.

“I’m just in favor of everybody voting. I think everybody should to be counted,” said Mother Fletcher.

The city of Tulsa released the following statement;

“The City of Tulsa respects the court’s decision and affirms the significance of the work the City continues to do in the North Tulsa and Greenwood communities. Through economic development and policy projects, the 1921 Graves Investigation, and a renewed community vision for the Kirkpatrick Heights & Greenwood Master Plan, the City remains committed to working with residents and providing resources to support the North Tulsa and Greenwood communities.”

Attorneys for the survivors released the following statement;

“Our clients, Viola “Mother” Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield “Mother” Randle, will file a petition for rehearing with the Oklahoma Supreme Court asking the Court to reconsider its decision.

The destruction of forty-square blocks of property on the night of May 31, 1921 through murder and arson clearly meets the definition of a public nuisance under Oklahoma law. Faithful application of the law compels the conclusion that Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher have stated a claim for relief. They are entitled to a trial. Yet the Court held that Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher have asked the Court to decide a “political” question that is beyond the purview of the Court. Incredibly, during the extensive oral argument the Supreme Court held on the appeal, not a single member of the nine-member Court asked a question about this political question theory. It is not a political question simply because the suit seeks to remedy wrongful acts perpetrated by a white mob against Black people – the court system is the very place where such harms are meant to be remedied.

In 103 years since the Massacre, no court has held a trial addressing the Massacre and no individual or entity has been held accountable for it. As justice is delayed once again in the Oklahoma court system, we call upon the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the Massacre under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007. The Massacre happened 103 years ago, but it remains a vivid memory of Mother Randle and Mother Fletcher who as young girls saw their community destroyed in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. As Mother Fletcher celebrated her 110th birthday last month and Mother Randle will celebrate the same birthday later this year, time is of the essence for this investigation to begin.”


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