By Brad Brooks
(Reuters) – A group representing the last three living survivors of the 1921 Tulsa massacre said it will appeal a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit seeking reparations for the racist violence in Oklahoma.
The Justice for Greenwood Foundation said it would fight the decision by Tulsa County District Court Judge Caroline Wall to toss the lawsuit from three survivors, all of whom are over the age of 100. Wall’s brief order, with no details on her reasoning, was filed on Friday, according to the court’s website.
The foundation called Wall’s ruling “perfunctory, unfounded, and nonsensical” in a written statement.
The lawsuit against the City of Tulsa and others, seeks financial and other reparations, including a 99-year tax holiday for Tulsa residents who are descendants of victims of the massacre in the north Tulsa neighborhood of Greenwood. It is estimated that as many as 300 people, most of them Black, died.
The violence erupted after a white woman told police that a Black man had grabbed her arm in an elevator in a downtown Tulsa commercial building on May 30, 1921, according to an account by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The following day, police arrested the man, whom the Tulsa Tribune reported had tried to assault the woman. Whites surrounded the courthouse, demanding the man be handed over. World War One veterans were among Black men who went to the courthouse to face the mob. A white man tried to disarm a Black veteran and a shot rang out, touching off further violence.
Whites looted and burned buildings and dragged Blacks from their beds and beat them, according to historical accounts. Whites were deputized by authorities and instructed to shoot Blacks. No one was ever charged in the violence.
Deep economic and health disparities remain between Blacks, who still live for the most part in north Tulsa, and whites.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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