Race Massacre Survivors, Defendants Hold Prayer Vigil Ahead Of Court Date

Monday, September 27th 2021, 9:28 pm
By: Amy Avery

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Some people held a prayer vigil in Greenwood Monday night before a court hearing Tuesday concerning a lawsuit against the city.

Race Massacre survivors are suing the city of Tulsa, saying the event 100 years ago created problems with racial inequality that still linger today.

Survivors and descendants gathered to let the city know they aren't backing down. One of the survivors said he hasn't slept peacefully in 100 years.

"I haven’t slept in 100 years. I will get a good night's rest,” said 100-year-old Race Massacre survivor Hughes Van Ellis.

Ellis is happy his day in court in Tulsa County has finally come.

Ellis, Viola Fletcher, Mother Randle and other descendants filed a lawsuit against the City of Tulsa, Tulsa County, the chamber and several others. They're using the city's public nuisance law to argue the Race Massacre created problems of racial inequality that are still felt today.

"We're simply saying the unlawful conduct by the defendants, the perpetrators of the massacre created a nuisance that continues to affect greenwood to this very day," said Justice for Greenwood attorney, Damario Solomon-Simmons.

Several groups named in the lawsuit have asked the judge to dismiss the case. They say this is the latest in three attempts to get reparations, after two previous lawsuits were stopped in the courts.

They also argue finding witnesses and documents for a 100-year-old case would be difficult.

Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons said his team is prepared to fight.

"We have experts from all around the country that are ready to come in and do depositions, take testimony," said Simmons.

The survivors and descendants are asking for money, land, immunity from taxes for 99 years and the creation of a scholarship program for future descendants that will last 99 years.

The survivors and descendants also argue the city is benefitting from Black Wall Street as a tourist attraction.

They also say the city unlawfully detained thousands of survivors and stopped efforts to rebuild.

Simmons said this is their last chance for justice.

"This is it,” said Simmons, “They're 107, 106 and 100 plus, if we can’t get justice for this case, they, like every other survivor, will go to their grave without seeing justice."

News On 6 reached out to the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County. Both said they can’t comment on pending litigation.

The hearing is set for Tuesday September 28th at 10 a.m.

The Justice for Greenwood Foundation also honored 11 Tulsa churches at the prayer vigil.

Related Story: Foundation Hands Out Donations To 11 Tulsa Churches Impacted By Race Massacre