Aaron Edwards, Five Hundred, Amanda discussed on Planet Money

Planet Money


Support for this. Npr podcast and the following message come from npr sponsor td ameritrade. Everything's customizable these days. Your trading platform can be too with thinker. Swim you can customize screeners charting and stock forecasts get started at td ameritrade dot com slash. Thanks swim support for npr and the following message come from usps. Your business is changing. Usps is changing with it. They're bringing small business. Solutions like fast reliable shipping nationwide more at usps dot com slash new routes the united states. Postal service priority. You anniversaries are a mixed bag. On one hand everybody pays attention. It's like we simply cannot resist twenty five and its multiples that last lawsuit the one that included chiefs grandfather began at the seventy fifth commemoration but once that lawsuit petered out most people outside of tulsa moved on. There was no new legal action until now the one hundredth anniversary last year chief signed onto a new lawsuit seeking restitution. It's got an unusual origin story. We have this new lawsuit that is being represented as a nuisance order a nuisance right because we we witnessed oklahoma sue pharmaceutical companies because of the nuisance that the opioid addiction crisis caused in twenty nineteen. The state of oklahoma sued a bunch of pharmaceutical companies and their case against and johnson went to trial. The state. Basically said johnson. And johnson. you guys make opioids. You knew they were addictive. You lied to us and now we have all these problems from addiction to homelessness to you name it. You are the reason we are paying for everything from drug courts to shelters you johnson and johnson. You created a public nuisance. Now sure public nuisance. Sounds more like somebody littered rather than wrecking entire communities but legally in oklahoma. This term means something specific. A public nuisance is one that affects at the same time an entire community or neighborhood. It was a rather unconventional thing for oklahoma to try but it worked scott. The judge here in oklahoma has found four. The state and against johnson and johnson declaring j. j. caused a public nuisance and has ordered johnson johnson to pay five hundred and seventy two million dollars to. There are thousands of these cases against drug manufacturers. This was the first to win at trial will when we looked at that that lawsuit and its definition as we said. Wait a minute. This sounds like the destruction of greenwood like literally in every form and fashion the consequences. The house affects the families. How it affects your future. Wealth inability to get a job or or be functional in society. All of those things directly impacted us so last fall team of lawyers representing the survivors and their descendants found that new lawsuit against the city of tulsa and its agencies the tulsa race massacre of nineteen twenty. One was presented legally as a public nuisance. Isn't that what reparations lawsuit in tooth and ninety seven to two thousand three was about restitution repair and respect. That's what this lawsuit is about restitution repair and respect everyone. We spoke with agreed that this is a creative approach but the official stance of the city is paying survivors and their descendants would be an unfair tax on today's citizens people who had nothing to do with what happened and the mayor said on the local news that reparations are divisive instead he's focusing on redeveloping property in and around greenwood. The mayor says it's a plan to build wealth that was lost and to bring all of tulsa together getting in trying to make cash payments to people. It divides the community on something that we really need to be united around so the city is trying to have the lawsuit dismissed in hair. Something i learned while working on this story by talking with historians lawyers and researchers historically reparation lawsuits for racial violence against black. Americans haven't worked when reparations have been paid for intern. Japanese americans for victims of the rosewood massacre in florida. They happened through legislation. I welcome everyone to today's hearing. On continuing injustice the centennial of the tulsa greenwood race massacre. That is why it's so meaningful that there was a hearing. Two weeks ago organized by a house subcommittee our next. Witnesses chief moose. Not quite how chiefs name is pronounced but still more than thirty years. After he first learned about what happened to his grandfather there he was giving his testimony of massacre descendants. Chief you're recognized for five minutes. Thank you mr chair in the steam. Buddy my name's chief wiley. I'm mushan. i'm the grandson of raymond. Beards senior and the grandnephew of matthew and mary beard chief made his case that is family fled tulsa after the massacre that they were dispersed across the country and lost contact with one another that they didn't know who was alive or dead and that he does not want to wait until the two hundred anniversary for some form of justice. When i look my oldest son in the is i wonder if the name i wonder if the chart baton of justice will burn in the palm of his hands or will it be cleansed in cold in the river of restitution. Thank you sir. We appreciate your testimony and your work a couple of days. After the hearing the tulsa greenwood massacre claims accountability act was introduced it needs to pass the house and senate so who knows what will happen. There have been so many similar. Bill's to acknowledge lynchings massacres slavery. That have stalled out before some for decades. This fight has gone on for so long that the easiest thing the government could have done. Give some money to the survivors. No longer means what it used to. As far as we know there are only three survivors left so we can stop here that That monument. That's place right there. So that's on the tour. Chief says he feels like there's this thing this hope for restitution and it's really close but when he goes to grab it it moves again just out of reach. 'cause you almost feel like somebody dropped a million dollars in a pond and gold coins and you feel like you gotta go dive into and scour it until you can find it because it belongs to you like. I can't stop looking for this thing. I can't stop looking for justice because it belongs to me. So for now he continues to offer his real black wall street tour taken groups of torres locals college kids through the streets. Where greenwood once was you any questions. All right we're done. Yeah yeah welcome. Thanks if you wanna know more about the tulsa race massacre you can listen. To the six part series i host blindspot tulsa burning. It's produced by the history channel and wnyc studios and collaboration with ko issue and focus black. Oklahoma you can email us at planet money at mpr dot org or an instagram twitter. Facebook tiktok today's show was produced by dan. Girma and mastered by julia. Moon planet. Money supervising producer is gold mark. This episode was edited by aaron edwards. Special thanks to rachel hubbard at keio issue. Treason heath at human rights watch and carlos hill at the university of oklahoma. I'm amanda and i'm kelaniya. This.

Coming up next