Hundreds of people gathered outside a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the deadliest racist massacre in the US – and President Joe Biden is set to honour the victims later today.
The Tulsa race massacre took place between 31 May and 1 June 1921, when white residents in Tulsa’s Greenwood district attacked black residents and burned down businesses, with estimates of death tolls ranging from dozens to 300.
Earlier, civil rights leaders joined local faith leaders offering prayers outside Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was under construction at the time but largely destroyed during the massacre.
Reverend William Barber, a civil rights activist, said he was “humbled even to stand on this holy ground”.
“You can kill the people, but you cannot kill the voice of the blood,” he said.
Although the church was nearly destroyed, worshippers continued to meet in the basement and rebuilt it several years later – becoming a symbol of resilience in Tulsa’s black community.
Among those who spoke at the outdoor ceremony were Democratic representatives Barbara Lee, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Chris Coons.
“We’re here to remember, to mourn, to rebuild equitably,” Ms Rochester said.
As the ceremony came to an end, participants put their hands on the prayer wall along the side of the sanctuary while soloist Santita Jackson sang Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Monday’s activities were supposed to culminate in a headline event at ONEOK Fields, with a performance from John Legend and a keynote speech from voting rights activist Stacey Abrams.
However, the event was cancelled last week after an agreement could not be reached over payments for three survivors of the attack.
In a statement tweeted on Sunday, Legend did not specifically address the cancellation of the event but said: “The road to restorative justice is crooked and rough – and there is space for reasonable people to disagree about the best way to heal the collective trauma of white supremacy.
“But one thing that is not up for debate – one fact we must hold with conviction – is that the path to reconciliation runs through truth and accountability.”
Meanwhile, other events included a joint service for the massacre at the First Baptist Church of North Tulsa led by Reverend John Faison Sr on Sunday.
On Monday, the Centennial Commission hosted a candlelight vigil to honour the victims of the massacre, and President Biden is scheduled to visit Tulsa on Tuesday.
He will be the first president to be part of the remembrances of what happened in what used to be known as “Black Wall Street”.
Sending love to the people of Tulsa as they commemorate the Massacre of 100 years ago. While we won’t be together tomorrow, I look forward to visiting with you in the near future, and, most importantly, to a true reckoning and reparations for the survivors and their descendants. pic.twitter.com/v1qA1hyVdU
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 30, 2021
Last October, at least 10 bodies were found in an unmarked mass grave during a search for victims of the massacre.
The discovery of 10 coffins was described as significant by the city’s mayor, GT Bynum, who budgeted $100,000 (£71,000) to find victims after previous searches had failed.
Nashville school shooting: First pictures emerge of victims of attack, including nine-year-old girl and headteacher
Images of four victims of a shooting at a school in Nashville have been released.
Six people, including three children, were all shot dead by Audrey Elizabeth Hale after the former student opened fire in the private Covenant School in the Tennessee state capital.
The six victims have been named as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all aged nine, 61-year-olds Cynthia Peak and Mike Hill, and 60-year-old Katherine Koonce.
Pictures have so far been released of Mr Hill, Ms Koonce, Ms Peak and nine-year-old Hallie.
Video shows moment attacker was shot dead
Why tragedy could have been even worse
Hallie was the daughter of the pastor whose church runs the school.
The three adults were all staff, Ms Koonce was the headteacher, Ms Peak a substitute teacher and Mr Hill was a caretaker.
“We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie,” Park Cities Presbyterian Church senior pastor Mark Davis said in a statement.
“Together, we trust in the power of Christ to draw near and give us the comfort and hope we desperately need.”
The Covenant School in Nashville has about 200 students from preschool through sixth grade, as well as roughly 50 staff members.
Hale had a manifesto and detailed maps of the school, and entered the building by shooting through its doors and starting on a killing spree.
Video of Nashville school killer entering building released
What we know about killer Audrey Hale
Police chief John Drake said: “We have a manifesto. We have some writings that we’re going over that pertain to this day, the actual incident. We have a map drawn out about how this was all going to take place.”
Officers started receiving reports of an attack at 10.13am (4.13pm UK time) and as police began clearing the ground floor of the school they heard gunfire coming from the second floor.
Two officers from a five-member team opened fire in response and fatally shot the suspect at 10.27am (4.27pm).
Hale’s motive for the attack is not yet known.
Nashville school shooting: Bodycam video shows moment attacker was shot dead by police
Graphic video has been released of the moment the Nashville school attacker was shot dead by police.
Audrey Hale, who identified as a transgender male and was a former student of the private Christian school, killed three pupils aged nine and three adults before being stopped.
Footage from Officer Rex Engelbert’s bodycam shows him opening fire with a rifle several times on Hale before the perpetrator falls to the ground injured.
Police then head towards the 28-year-old just a few metres away as officers shout “move, move”, and “watch out, watch out”.
The attacker, now on the floor, is hit by several more police gunshots before an officer yells to the suspect “stop moving, stop moving”, with the killer appearing to be still alive as one of their arms moves.
An officer screams “throw your hands away from the gun, get your hands away from the gun”, while another says “suspect down, suspect down”.
Hale’s body is then shown lying next to the weapons, including a rifle, the assailant used in the deadly Monday morning attack on the second floor of the Covenant School in Tennessee.
A second clip shows what happened from a different angle with footage from Officer Michael Collazo’s bodycam. He is shown firing his pistol at Hale in the second volley of shots after the suspect was already on the ground.
Minutes earlier, the officers had stormed the building as video showed several going from empty classroom to empty classroom before making their way to the second floor.
Multiple gunshots are heard in the footage as officers run down a hallway – past what appears to be a victim – and into a lounge area, where the suspect is seen dropping to the floor after being shot.
Police said the suspect was killed after a confrontation with officers.
What we know about killer Audrey Hale
Video of Nashville school killer entering building
Why Nashville tragedy could have been even worse
The start of the six-minute police video shows Officer Engelbert retrieving a rifle from his car boot before a member of staff directs him to the entrance, telling him that the school is locked down but at least two children are not accounted for.
“Let’s go! I need three!” the officer yells as he uses a key to unlock a door and enter the building, where alarms can be heard ringing.
Hale was described by officials as a “lone zealot”, who lived in Nashville, and was armed with two assault-type weapons, and a handgun.
Hale had a manifesto and detailed maps of the school, and entered the building by shooting through its doors before the killings.
Police have also released video of the moment the attacker entered the school.
The six victims have been named as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all aged nine, substitute teacher Cynthia Peak and school custodian Mike Hill, both 61, and 60-year-old Katherine Koonce, who was the headteacher.
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