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Closed Reburial Draws Anger in Tulsa

Protesters say there should have been a funeral for possible massacre victims
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2021 4:30 PM CDT
Reburial Angers Families in Tulsa
Celi Butler-Davis, descendant of a Tulsa Race Massacre victim, protests Friday at Oaklawn Cemetery.   (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

(Newser) – The remains exhumed from a cemetery to check for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre have been reburied, angering protesters who may be descendants of those killed. The remains of 19 people were returned Friday to their original placements, KTUL reports, while protesters locked out of Oaklawn Cemetery watched through a fence, upset that there was no funeral. "It's disgusting and disrespectful that these are our family members and we are outside of the gate," said Bobby Eaton, relative of a massacre victim. A forensic anthropologist said DNA evidence was gathered, though none of the remains has been confirmed to be that of massacre victims, per the AP. A bullet was discovered with one set of remains that showed signs of trauma to the body and head, Phoebe Stubblefield said. "We are not done, we have not stopped." Stubblefield told the crowd.

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A spokeswoman for Tulsa said the city is "committed to transparency during this investigation," per ABC, and expects a report from researchers this fall. She said members of the oversight committee, physical investigation team, and clergy involved with the process were invited to Friday's reburial. "They did not consult, that’s why we’re out here right now," Eaton said. "They didn't consult with the African American community." DNA matching with possible descendants could take years, she said. If the remains cannot be matched to anyone, Michelle Brooks said, "We would work to establish a permanent memorial." The city still plans to search a park and another cemetery for remains of massacre victims. (During the massacre, a witness said, "They were killing all the Black people." (Read more Tulsa stories.)

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