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Possible mass grave from 1921 Tulsa race massacre, featured in HBO’s ‘Watchmen,’ uncovered

Possible mass grave from 1921 Tulsa race massacre, featured in HBO’s ‘Watchmen,’ uncovered
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma have identified two possible mass grave sites in Oklahoma which they believe may be connected to the infamous Tulsa race riots of 1921.

The two spots, one of which measures roughly 30 by 25 feet, were identified at the Oaklawn Cemetery using ground-penetrating radar, though the research team of team of forensic archaeologists are unsure how many bodies the possible mass graves may contain.  

RT

"I'm as confident as I can be in the results that this is a very big candidate with something associated with the massacre," Scott Hammerstedt, a senior researcher for the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, said Monday. 

Phoebe Stubblefield, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Florida, estimates that there could be anywhere from 10 to 100 bodies at the grave sites, but stressed that, given how far in the past the events took place, they are unlikely to be able to identify any of the remains. 

"We just don't know what level of preservation we'll get," Stubblefield said.

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Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum began an investigation into rumored mass grave sites in October 2018. The public oversight committee, which consists of descendants of the massacre victims, community leaders, historians and scholars, is scheduled to meet again in February to make a determination on whether it will seek the necessary permits to exhume bodies from the site. 

The Tulsa race riots began after Dick Rowland, a black teenager who worked as a shoe shiner, was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a white woman named Sarah Page, an elevator operator, in May 1921.

After Rowland was arrested, a white mob demanded that the sheriff turn him over to them. A group of 25 black men arrived to guard Rowland at the courthouse during his trial but were turned away by the sheriff, only to return in greater numbers later that night.

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Roughly 1,500 white men faced off against 75 black men outside the courthouse. Many members of both groups were armed World War I veterans. The black men retreated to a predominantly black neighborhood in the city, gunfire was exchanged and the violence escalated from there.

White rioters led by the Klu Klux Klan razed the Greenwood district, one of the wealthiest black communities in the US, which was often referred to as “Black Wall Street,” on June 1 while looting many of the black-owned businesses. The governor declared martial law and enforced it with the National Guard but by the end of the violence, some 35 square blocks were destroyed, including 1,250 homes, churches, schools, businesses, a hospital and a library. 

RT

Official death tolls listed 36 people killed, though many suspected the number was far higher, possibly into the hundreds. The events were recently recreated in HBO's 'Watchmen' TV series, based on a 1980s graphic novel of the same name. 

The archaeologists recommended further radar survey and physical excavation of the sites, adding that the cause of death investigation would need to be carried out by the State of Oklahoma’s Medical Examiner’s Office to determine whether the bodies were indeed connected to the Tulsa Race Riots or a Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1919.

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