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Mass grave found in search for 1921 Tulsa race massacre victims

Gino Spocchia
·1-min read
Investigators work to examine possible grave sites in Tulsa, Oklahoma  (AP)
Investigators work to examine possible grave sites in Tulsa, Oklahoma (AP)

Investigators believe at least 10 bodies discovered amid excavations in Tusla, Oklahoma, could be connected to a 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre mass burial site.

State officials say the remains were found underneath a city cemetery, some three feet below the surface, where several bodies had been placed and buried in the same unmarked shaft.

“This constitutes a mass grave," Kary Stackelbeck, Oklahoma’s state archaeologist for Oklahoma, said in an announcement.

Authorities and campaigners believe hundreds could have been buried in unmarked graves following the 1921 Tulsa massacre, when a white mob attacked the city’s “Black Wall Street”.

Scientists said late last year that ground-penetrating radar had picked-up “anomalies” consistent with mass graves at three locations that warranted further testing.

Monday marked the second excavation at the city’s Oaklawn Cemetery, where a previous examination had uncovered no remains.

“It does correspond to one of the locations that was picked up on by the geophysical survey work so that gives us reason for optimism,” Ms Stackelbeck said on Tuesday.

“We don’t have a whole lot of details to present at this point time, but we are continuing our investigation,” she added, as investigators extend their excavations to a second suspected shaft nearby.

Authorities will now assess whether or not the located remains belong to victims of the 1921 race massacre, in what the city’s mayor, G.T. Bynum, called a historic discovery.

"What we do know as of today is that there is a mass grave in Oaklawn cemetery where we have no record of anyone being buried," said Mr Bynum, who proposed the search.

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