A mass grave has been unearthed in an Oklahoma cemetery as archaeologists continue to search for victims of one of the most terrible examples of racist mass terror in modern U.S. history, the 1921 Tulsa Massacre.
The Tulsa Massacre happened when a white mob assisted by the police set upon the city’s Greenwood district – a prosperous area known as Black Wall Street – in a two-day orgy of violence that claimed the lives of hundreds of Black victims and led to the decimation of upwards of 1,000 homes belonging to African American families.
On Wednesday, Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelback announced that her team had found the outlines of 10 coffins at Oaklawn Cemetary in Tulsa and that she has a “high degree of confidence that this is one of the locations that we have been looking for.”
However, investigators remain cautious about the finding because they haven’t yet exposed the likely human remains.
City officials began efforts to uncover the remains of victims of the 1921 massacre in 2018. An excavation of another area of the cemetery in July did not yield any results.
Since continuing the excavation on Monday, state archaeologists have already found one set of human remains and a suspected second set, which are both not yet confirmed to belong to the victims of the massacre.
“We still have a lot of work to do to identify the nature of that mass grave and identify who is in it, but what we do know, as of today, is that there is a mass grave in Oaklawn Cemetery where we have no record of anyone being buried,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum in a Wednesday news conference, reports CNN.
Community members involved in the efforts hope that their findings can help shed light on the brutal disappearances and murders that effectively erased a thriving Black community off the face of the map, and was subsequently erased from official U.S. history.
“We basically are thinking of our loved ones, our community members who lost their lives very, very tragically,” said Brenda Alford, the chair of the investigation’s public oversight committee. “I am just very appreciative of all the hard work that is going into finding our truth, to again bring some sense of justice and healing to our community.”
The cemetery has been the focus of efforts after records showed that some 18 identified and unidentified victims of the race riots were buried in the seminary.
It is believed that about 300 African American residents of the North Tusla area were butchered by a white mob on May 31 and June 1, 1921, when mobs of vigilantes – aided by authorities on the local, state, and federal levels – swept through an area that was home to about 10,000 Black residents.
Tulsa’s Greenwood district, also known as Black Wall Street or “Little Africa,” had become a successful part of the city filled with Black-owned businesses, health clinics, law offices, churches, and even a Black-owned bus line. Several Black millionaires who had profited from the oil boom also resided in Greenwood. However, local white racists and the local press derided the area as “N*****town.”
The area was plunged into blood and fire on May 21 after a young Black man, Dick Rowland, was dragged to the Tulsa County Courthouse by a lynch-mob after he was accused of insulting a white woman.
A group of Black men arrived at the courthouse to defend Rowland from the crowd, and after a brief exchange of fire, police organized posses of deputized white men and gave them permission to rampage through Greenwood and loot, murder, and pillage the area.
As the orgy of violence reached its crescendo, private planes even dropped firebombs onto the Black businesses and residential buildings of Greenwood while gunmen strafed Black residents fleeing the massacre.
When all was said and done, as many as 300 people were killed and Black Wall Street was decimated. An account from Black attorney B.C. Franklin recalled the area was reduced to “ashes and burned safes and trunks and the like, where once stood beautiful homes” and businesses.
Victims’ families were also rounded up under martial law while bodies were buried in mass graves by strangers. Many families were never given notice of whether their loved ones died or even where they were buried. Some families still don’t know where their aunts, uncles, and grandparents disappeared to during that period.
The Tulsa Massacre has often been referred to as a “race riot,” but historians contend that the term hardly describes the scale of violence and complicity of local authorities, who even went so far as to block Red Cross medical personnel from entering Tulsa while forcing firemen to turn around at gunpoint when they entered the area.
“The term riot is contentious, because it assumes that black people started the violence, as they were accused of doing by whites,” said Smithsonian Museum programmer John W. Franklin in a Smithsonian Magazine article. “We increasingly use the term massacre, or I use the European term, pogrom.”
The tragic episode was largely erased from the annals of official U.S. history until recent years, as Black historians and others have brought more attention to the massacre.
Palestinian Writer Kicked Out of His Neighborhood by Israelis for Viral CNN, MSNBC Interviews
A prominent Palestinian writer has been expelled from his home after delivering a powerful message about the actions of Israeli occupation forces on CNN and MSNBC.
As Israel continues to back the theft of homes by illegal Jewish settlers in Jerusalem, it has delivered harsh blows against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, resulting in about 1,000 injured and a fast-rising civilian death toll of at least 139 Palestinians.
Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian writer and activist who resides in Sheikh Jarrah, has been making appearances this week to discuss his personal experience of the wave of dispossessions and displacements enforced by Israeli authorities in Palestinian neighborhoods. His powerful interviews have gone viral.
As punishment for speaking to the international press about his people’s plight, El-Kurd was removed from his own neighborhood by Israeli military forces.
In the video, a woman can be heard pleading in Arabic for the soldiers to “leave him” while El-Kurd defiantly challenged the soldiers: “Hit me! Hit me!”
The expulsion of El-Kurd from his neighborhood is believed to be a direct result of his outspoken and blunt discussion of what he describes to CNN as “the violent dispossession” of Palestinian families.
He also described the forced eviction of Palestinians from their ancestral land as “forced ethnic displacement,” despite Israeli courts’ legal claims. El-Kurd pointed out that international law does not grant legal jurisdiction to Israeli courts over occupied East Jerusalem or the ability to evict Palestinians from their homes.
In a separate interview with MSNBC, the write blasted the Israelis for resorting to “supremacist, colonial judicial system” that works with civilian organizations to remove Palestinian Arab residents from their homes and replace them with Jewish settlers, many of whom hail from Europe and the United States.
“Today the difference we have is that they no longer use their artillery to steal our homes except when they do come and steal their homes,” he said. “Now they use a supremacist, colonial judicial system that colludes with organizations to take our homes. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s moral or correct or historically just. What’s happening to us is ethnic cleansing.”
Despite the traumatic experience of being expelled from his home, El-Kurd later tweeted that he was “fine & unintimidated.”
On Friday, the United Nations said that it believes that some 10,000 Palestinians have been forced to abandon their homes amid the escalating offensive by Israeli forces.
WATCH: Video Shows Bullets Fly as Armored Car Crew Narrowly Escapes Brutal Heist
Dramatic dash cam footage from Pretoria, South Africa, shows the moment that the crew of an armored car narrowly escaped an attempt by armed robes to stage a heist.
The shocking video shows a pair of private security officers transporting cash in a bulletproof Toyota truck on April 22 before they suddenly come under attack by armed assailants.
For the first minute of the roughly three-minute-long video, the security guards can be seen routinely driving down a highway.
The vehicle then comes under fire as bullets can be heard slamming into the driver side of the car, with the window by the driver’s side shattering.
The driver, who maintains his calm and composure during the attack, manages to escape amid the traffic. He also seems to slam into one of the two vehicles belonging to the attackers.
“They’re going to shoot. They’re going to f**king shoot,” the driver then says, urging his colleague to pull out the rifle and prepare to defend their lives.
As gunshots continue to ring out, the two drive silently as the tension builds. The driver then shouts to his colleague: “Phone Robbie, phone Josh! Ask them where they are.”
As the video ends, the driver can be seen stopping the vehicle and grabbing his colleague’s rifle. At that point, it becomes clear that the assailants have realized that their attack was futile they had already fled the scene.
“The suspects fired several shots at the [Cash-In-Transit] vehicle in an attempt to stop it during a high-speed chase,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo , reports News24.
“The driver of the CIT vehicle managed to evade the robbers for a while but later stopped in wait for the robbers,” Naidoo added. “The robbers fled without taking any money. No arrests have yet been made.”
Online users have praised the steel nerves of the armored car’s crew in navigating what could have been a deadly attack.
After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb
The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.
When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.
Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”
Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.
According to the Times:
In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.
John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.
Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.
“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?”
And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.
“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time.
While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.
Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”
“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.
Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons