The bodies of 19 people exhumed from an Oklahoma cemetery during the search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa racial massacre were reburied in a closed-door ceremony on Friday, despite objections from protesters outside the cemetery.
“It is totally disgusting and disrespectful that those are members of our family and we are outside the door instead of inside the door where they are,” Celi Butler Davis, who said she was the descendant of a victim of the massacre, told KTUL-TV. .
Up to 300 people died in Tulsa in 1921 when a white mob destroyed a thriving neighborhood known as Black Wall Street.
Others protesting Friday’s burial called for a criminal investigation.
“The remains found, a skull with a bullet hole, it looks like it’s just beginning to get somewhere” in the investigation into the deaths, State Rep. Regina Goodwin told KJRH-TV.
A forensic anthropologist, Phoebe Stubblefield, said a bullet was found with a set of remains that had trauma to the body, including the head.
Stubblefield said none of the remains have been confirmed as a victim of the massacre, although forensic and DNA evidence has been collected.
“We haven’t finished, we haven’t stopped,” Stubblefield told the crowd, saying a report on the findings is likely to be released in the fall.The opinions of the chairman of the public oversight committee for the graves, J Kavin Ross, remain in a mass grave as they are reburied at Oaklawn Cemetery in Tulsa. Photographer: Mike Simons / AP
Some protesters also wanted the burial postponed, but a city spokeswoman told Tulsa World that a burial plan was required to receive approval to exhume the remains.
“All forensic on-site analysis, documentation, and DNA sampling of the remains are complete, but matching DNA to potential descendants could take years,” Brooks said.
“Work to identify the descendants and establish a permanent memorial will continue in the future,” Brooks said.
Searches are planned in two more areas, a second cemetery and a park.