WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, introduced H.R. 3466, The Tulsa-Greenwood Massacre Claims Accountability Act. He made the announcement this week during a Constitution Subcommittee hearing titled: “Continuing Injustice: The Centennial of the Tulsa-Greenwood Race Massacre.”
“This week, I will introduce the Tulsa-Greenwood Massacre Claims Accountability Act, which would create a federal cause of action for massacre-related claims,” Rep. Johnson said during the hearing. “The victims of this atrocity have been denied justice for far too long. Similar legislation was previously introduced by my friend, former Congressman and former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers. I am honored to continue his legacy in this way.”
The bill would provide victims of the massacre – survivors and their descendants – access to the courts that they’ve been thus far denied due to statute of limitations restrictions. The hearing included the testimony from the only living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre Viola Fletcher, 107; Tulsa Race Massacre survivor and World War II veteran Hughes Van Ellis, 100; and Tulsa Race Massacre survivor Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106.
“While the exact number is not known, over 300 Black lives were lost that day, as well as 1,200 black-owned homes and countless businesses,” Johnson said during the hearing. “Their lives, their land and their liberty were stolen from them. And then these victims were erased from our national history. This massacre undoubtably had a devastating toll on the Black community in Tulsa. But creating a cause of action to recover compensation for these wrongs is just one step in our path towards healing.”
Congressional action is warranted, Johnson said, because not only is there precedence in providing reparations for atrocities such as the Tulsa Massacre, but there is substantial evidence that shows government officials – including the police and the National Guard – were complicit in the massacre 100 years ago this month.
Original cosponsor include: (34) Adams, Bass, Beatty, Brown (Anthony), Butterfield, Carson, Carter (Troy), Chu, Clarke (Yvette), Davis (Danny), Evans, Garcia (Sylvia), Green, Grijalva, Horsford, Jackson Lee, Jacobs, Jones, Lawrence, Lawson, Lee (Barbara), Moore, Norton, Payne, Plaskett, Pressley, Rush, Scott (David), Sewell, Thompson, Torres (Ritchie), Waters, Watson Coleman, Wilson.