Oklahoma judge dismisses Tulsa race massacre reparations case filed by last known survivors


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By Omar Jimenez and Rebekah Riess, CNN

Tulsa’s Greenwood district, also known as Black Wallstreet, prospered before the 1921 race massacre.

An Oklahoma judge dismissed the reparations lawsuit filed by the last three known survivors of the Tulsa race massacre on Friday, court records show.

The three had been locked in a yearslong court battle against the City of Tulsa and other groups and officials over the opportunities taken from them when the city’s Greenwood neighborhood was burned to the ground in 1921.

Contemporary reports of deaths began at 36, but historians now believe as many as 300 people may have died, according to the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum. Thousands were left homeless.


The plaintiffs had argued that the damage inflicted during the massacre was a “public nuisance” from the start and were seeking relief from that nuisance as well as to “recover for unjust enrichment” others have gained from the “exploitation of the massacre.

Cornell’s Legal Information Institute defines a public nuisance as when a person or entity “unreasonably interferes with a right that the general public shares in common.”

However, the City of Tulsa requested the lawsuit be dismissed with prejudice against refiling, arguing in part that “simply being connected to a historical event does not provide a person with unlimited rights to seek compensation from any project in any way related to that historical event.”

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