Tulsa County District Judge Caroline Wall ruled against a motion to dismiss the suit to get the three survivors paid. The survivors are Lessie Benningfield Randle, 107, Viola Fletcher, 107, and Hughes Van Ellis, 101, as reported by the Associated Press.
“We want them to see justice in their lifetime,” civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons said, according to the AP. “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 time is of the essence.”
The lawyer sued under Oklahoma’s public nuisance law, claiming the actions of a White mob killed hundreds of Black residents and destroyed America’s most prosperous business district. Thousands of Black residents were left homeless from the massacre as well. The suit, as previously mentioned, also includes reparations for the victims. Insurance companies never compensated victims for their losses, and the massacre ended in racial and economic disparities that still have an impact today, according to the lawsuit.
The Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners, Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, Tulsa County Sheriff and the Oklahoma Military Department are reportedly listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
An unspecified amount of punitive damages is being requested along with calls for the creation of a hospital in north Tulsa, mental health and education programs as well as a Tulsa Massacre Victims Compensation Fund.
In 2021, former Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook released Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre documentary. In 2020, former President Donald Trump hosted a rally in Tulsa on June 20, moving it from its planned date of Juneteenth, due to a local celebration of the holiday.