The first day of the search for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is over. Researchers are prepping for a second day of testing and are spending tonight going over the data they collected. Several community leaders are expressing concerns about the process.
Researchers and members of the Mass Graves Public Oversight Committee have been listening to stories of survivors, stories of loss, stories of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
"There should be no stone unturned. There should be no stone unturned," said Mass Graves Oversight Committee member Kristi Williams.
Williams says they were hoping the accounts would help them figure out where to search for mass graves from the massacre. Some community leaders say the details of those accounts weren't taken into consideration on day 1.
"While we are happy for it to be beginning I am just a little dismayed at the scope right now. That really does not coincide with the eye witness testimonies that we have received from people since we have begun this research," says Dr. Robert Turner of Vernon Chapel AME Church, "We have some very credible leads that tell us the bodies were not just dumped in the grassy area, but right near and right underneath the overpass of the interstate."
Researchers say they specifically picked this grassy area of Oaklawn Cemetery to test with equipment like a ground penetrating radar because of its history, interviews they have conducted and the research they have done. They say they won't see the results immediately. They will go over data after surveying all the locations but say they will not release their findings before.
"I really do believe our Mayor, Mayor Bynum. I believe his heart is in the right place. I do believe we have to continue to push," said Williams, "We have to be watchful, we have to do our due diligence to make sure that justice is being served."
This is only day 1. Researchers say, if everything stays on schedule they will be back out at Oaklawn until Thursday. Then they will move onto other locations.