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Shaun Kraisman
An Oklahoma judge was thrown out a lawsuit seeking reparations for victims and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Tulsa County District Court Judge Caroline Wall dismissing the case in a written order after reviewing complaints from the city, the regional chamber of commerce, and other local agencies. Now they argued the plaintiff’s request to compensate residents for the destruction of the prominent black neighborhood would impose a significant burden on the government’s financial stability.

Emma Rechenberg
The lawsuit alleges large swaths of Tulsa’s black community still suffer from the damage brought on by the massacre nearly a century afterwards. Now this comes as there has been a push for reparations across the country in several states and cities and we are taking up the case in national report court. For the purposes of this segment, Doug Burns is a former federal prosecutor. He’ll be speaking on behalf of the city of Tulsa. David De Pietro is a criminal defense attorney arguing on behalf of the survivors. Welcome to you both and thanks so much for coming on. Doug, first to you again, the city taking a stand here. Why should the city of Tulsa not be on the hook for the devastation?

Doug Burns
Well, you have to break it out into social and policy discussion and then the legal discussion. Social and policy is this was a horrific, horrific incident, probably the worst racial violence incident in American history. And the argument for reparations is clear. There should be reparations. However, legally, there are two problems. Number one, the statute of limitations, obviously. This happened, you know, over 100 years ago. They tried to be smart, the plaintiffs lawyers, and I credit them for this. They called it an ongoing nuisance. Ongoing being the key word, meaning it’s still ongoing, therefore it’s not barred by the statute of limitations, but the judge rejected that. And then the other point, very important, guys, is separation of powers. Okay. This should not be at the courthouse. It should be at the state house. And so the legislature should pass bills appropriating money for reparations, not a court.

Which is something that is a major topic, obviously in California. But before we even get to that, staying on this, David, and I’ll bring you in to this point. One of the attorneys for the survivors, Sarah Solfinelli, saying her team does plan to appeal that decision by the judge. In a statement, she writes, “black Americans, especially black Tulsons, carry the weight of intergenerational racial trauma day in and day out, a weight they cannot relinquish and cavalierly dismiss. The dismissal of this case is just one more example of how America’s, including Tulsa’s legacy, is disproportionately and unjustly borne by the black community.”

So David, at appeal, what does this ultimately look like?

David Di Pietro
I think it’s a little unfortunate that the judge allowed this case to go on for a couple of years and then revisiting these motions to dismiss, to let the case be dismissed. I think you have actual victims in this case, people that went through it. And I think you have an actual causal connection between the events and what occurred. I understand the argument about general reparations and how do you do that? But this is a little different because this is an actual site that was damaged. We know that the police and local authorities allowed it to happen. And if the jury feels that there is a causal connection in it, there’s an ongoing nuisance, then let it be and let the city fix what was destroyed 100 years ago wrongfully and really malicious and nasty manner. So it’s unfortunate. I think this case was dismissed. I think it should be able to play out and at least have a jury take a look at it.

Again, if you look at what was initially asked for, basically accounting of the property and wealth that was lost or stolen in the attack. Also the construction of a hospital in North Tulsa and the creation of a Tulsa Massacre Victims’ Compensation Fund. So Doug, I know this, this isn’t exactly what the lawsuit will ultimately yield, but is this something that perhaps we could see from the community going forward and attempt to meet the demands of those who had initially filed the lawsuit?

Well, as I said, there’s a number of avenues other than the courthouse to address this. So community sentiment, money being raised, legislation, allocating funding to make reparations, and then even in the executive branch, the governor of the state. Those are all the avenues that should be pursued to address this horrific incident.

And we’ll bring in Newsmax contributor, Danin Barelli, who’s been listening along obviously to this. Again, Danin, good to have you back on set here. Judge threw this one out in terms of reparations there for Tulsons, their attorneys that are represented in that. They’re pushing for reparations or do plan to appeal. They’ve made that public. But then it brings you to the broader picture. Even though this, as David was outlining, this is somewhat of a separate incident here in this case, but the general requests for reparations and the push for this, again, as Doug was pointing out, needs to go through legislature, through the governor, obviously being paid out by the state there, something you’ve seen in California. Where do you see this going? Where do you see this headed? Do you think any of these cases at some point will actually be granted reparations?

Danin Barelli
Well, we hear about reparations and is always about black Americans, And it really, usually it comes down to the issue of slavery. And no one is alive present day that was involved or responsible for slavery. The other thing I would say is that they were black slave traders and black slave owners as well. So when you’re making this argument, who exactly is going to benefit from any of this? Anyone present day is not responsible and we would be the ones that would be paying for it. And we’re not responsible for what happened.

And again, we’ve seen it, David, we’ll just end on this. We’ve seen different states obviously approach the discussion of reparations in different ways. In California, the proposal has come forward, essentially, on average about a million dollars for black residents there is assumed to be owed at this point. Do you see this trend expanding nationally beyond just the state of California? David, to you?

I see that being an ongoing political conversation. I think this case in Tulsa is a little different because we actually have a site and we have folks and we can have identifiable people. And we have a state that was involved in local officials. I think the general topic of reparations is a much different political issue that’s not going to be fought in the courthouse. It’s going to be fought in the legislature and in elections. So I see a big distinction between the Tulsa case and the general topic of reparations.

All right. Final thoughts from Denine really quickly on this.

Well, like I said before, it’s a topic that is tossed around and people really need to look into the details and the nitty-gritty when it comes to making calls for this.

All right. Thanks for everyone in joining in this robust version of National Report Court, Doug Burns, David DePietro and Denine Forelli. Thank you all.

In recent years, the topic of reparations has been in discussions across the country as the nation grapples with its history of mistreatment of African-Americans. While certain states are drafting up plans for actual monetary compensation of the descendants of those affected by slavery, in Tulsa, Oklahoma the topic of the attack on the Greenwood District in 1921 has been brought to the forefront of reparations efforts. With Oklahoma Judge Caroline Wall dismissing the lawsuit against the City if Tulsa brought on by survivors of the deadly rampage, it has sparked debate as to whether or not this decision is fair and in-line with existing legal precedent.

Civil rights expert and personal injury attorney David Di Pietro was brought on Newmax’s National Report Court with former federal prosecutor Doug Burns to discuss the merits of the lawsuit and whether or not an appeal is appropriate or has a chance of success. Doug explained how there was a difference between social and legal policy discussions regarding this case, and agreed with the plaintiffs moral position to seek reparations for what occurred. He stated however that the statute of limitations comes into play in this due to the event taking place over one hundred years ago. Additionally, he explained that it is up to the State of Oklahoma to approve reparations for the attack on Greenwood, not the courthouse. David responded by stating that it was unfortunate the case was dragged on for several years only to be dismissed. He explained that if brought up in an appeal in front of a jury, there is a valid case because the police and legal authorities at the time allowed it to happen. If the jury feels there is a causal connection and ongoing nuisance, then the city would be obligated to right the wrongs committed over 100 years ago, according to David.

David was requested to appear on Newsmax due to his qualifications and experience as a civil rights expert and renowned personal injury attorney in Florida.

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