Riot study bill argued
BY CHUCK ERVIN World Capitol Bureau
Mar 21, 2000
1/20/13 at 7:59 AM
Senators engage in lengthy debate concerning
OKLAHOMA CITY -- What was supposed to be an innocuous bill authorizing continued
study of the 1921 Tulsa race riot set off a lengthy debate Monday in the Senate.
Senators who opposed the bill predicted that it will become a vehicle to require
the state to pay reparations to survivors or their descendants.
Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, said there is no support in his eastern Oklahoma
district for the payment of reparations.
He was joined by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Oklahoma City, who said he would support the
bill in its present form but opposes reparations.
Sen. Maxine Horner, D-Tulsa, the Senate author of House Bill 2468, was able to
table an amendment by Sen. Grover Campbell, R-Owasso, that would have blocked spending
any state money for a riot memorial.
She noted that state money has been spent on the bombing memorial in Oklahoma City
and other memorials. The amendment was tabled by a vote of 25-18.
An amendment by Shurden that would have barred any state funds from being used for
reparations narrowly failed, 21-22.
The riot commission has voted 9-2 that reparations should be paid but has not
recommended any specific amount.
Sen. Robert Milacek, R-Waukomis, is a member of the riot commission and said he
cast one of the two "no" votes on reparations. He urged passage of the bill, however,
stating that reparations are not an issue in the measure.
The commission has not yet delivered a final report, and Milacek indicated that
there may still be a lot of unanswered questions when the report is handed down.
Horner said the handful of riot survivors who testified were not seeking reparations.
"This is not about reparations," she said.
Shurden remained unconvinced, saying the question of reparations will have to be
fought in the future.
The bill provides for a parcel of land in north Tulsa belonging to Oklahoma State
sity to be transferred to the Oklahoma Historical Society for creation of a memorial
park, but it doesn't specify how much land.
Some senators objected to the vagueness.
"How much land do they want?" asked Sen. Lewis Long, D-Glenpool.
Long also said the city of Tulsa -- not the state -- should have taken the lead on
the race riot study.
"Where is the Tulsa City Council?" Long asked. "Are they hiding behind a rock? Are
they out fishing?
"Are they going to raise any money?" he asked. "How are they going to help out?"
Sen. Penny Williams, D-Tulsa, said the city may be staying
in the background for a reason.
"I don't think it's something the city's proud of," she said, "so I don't think
they're rushing forward. They may need encouragement."
The Senate adopted an amendment by Sen. Jim Williamson, R-Tulsa, that would
dissolve the riot commission by Nov. 1, 2003, and one by Sen. Jim Dunlap,
R-Bartlesville, that would require it to issue a final report by Feb. 28, 2001.
The bill passed, 31-15 and now goes back to the House for consideration of Senate
Chuck Ervin, World Capitol Bureau chief, can be reached at (405) 528-2465
or via e-mail at email@example.com .