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At least 10 bodies found during search for Tulsa Race Massacre victims

At least 10 bodies have been found in an unmarked mass grave at a Tulsa cemetery where investigators are searching for remains of victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, a state official said on Wednesday.

“What we were finding was an indication that we were inside a large area … a large hole that had been excavated and into which several individuals had been placed and buried in that location. This constitutes a mass grave,” said Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck.

Ten coffins were discovered with what is presumed to be one person in each coffin, Stackelbeck said. She said further examination was needed.

Forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, a descendant of a survivor of the massacre who is assisting in the search, said it would take considerable time to identify the remains and determine whether they were victims of the massacre.

The search began on Monday and is the second this year after an unsuccessful search in another area of Oaklawn cemetery ended in July.

Tulsa’s mayor, GT Bynum, who first proposed looking for victims of the violence in 2018 and later budgeted $100,000 to fund it after previous searches failed to find victims has said efforts will be made to find any descendants of the victims who are identified.

Oaklawn cemetery in north Tulsa is near the Greenwood district where the massacre took place.

The violence took place on 31 May and 1 June in 1921, when a white mob attacked Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, killing an estimated 300, mostly Black, people and wounding 800 more while robbing and burning businesses, homes and churches.

The massacre – which happened two years after what is known as the “Red Summer”, when hundreds of African Americans died at the hands of white mobs in violence around the US – has been depicted in recent HBO shows Watchmen and Lovecraft County.

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