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Friday, September 17, 2021

19 bodies reburied amid protests in search for Tulsa victims

Forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield has said a bullet was found with one set of remains that had trauma to the body, including to the head.

By: AP | Tulsa |
August 1, 2021 9:37:29 am
Tulsa Race Massacre descendant Heather Nash, left, yells at Brenda Alford, 1921 Graves Public Oversight Committee member, and forensic anthropologist Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield as remains from a mass grave are reintered at Oaklawn Cemetery. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

The bodies of 19 people exhumed from a Tulsa cemetery during a search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre were reburied during a closed ceremony, despite objections from protesters outside the cemetery.

“This is totally disgusting and disrespectful that those are our family members and we’re outside the gate instead of inside that gate where they are,” Celi Butler Davis, who said she is a descendant of a massacre victim, told KTUL-TV.

Others protesting Friday’s reburial called for a criminal investigation.

“The found remains — a skull with a bullet hole — that seems like you’re just beginning to get somewhere” in investigating the deaths, state Rep. Regina Goodwin told KJRH-TV.

Forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield has said a bullet was found with one set of remains that had trauma to the body, including to the head.

Stubblefield said none of the remains has been confirmed as massacre victims, although forensic and DNA evidence has been collected.

“We are not done, we have not stopped,” Stubblefield told the crowd, saying a public report on the findings is likely during the fall.

Some protesters also wanted the reburial postponed, but city spokesperson Michelle Brooks told the Tulsa World that an internment plan was required in order to receive approval to exhume the remains.

“All on-site forensic analysis, documentation and DNA sampling from the remains are complete, but the DNA matching with potential descendants could take years,” Brooks said.

“Work to identify descendants and establish a permanent memorial will proceed in the future,” Brooks said.

Searches of two more areas, a second cemetery and a park are planned.

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