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GREENWOOD RENAISSANCE & REBUILD

RACIST FIRE ORDINANCE DEFEATED IN COURT

It has been noted the origin of war is theft, a collective will for a collective purpose. Tulsa's blacks may have fallen victim of the axiom. They had refused to sell their land, with its strategic location, before and after the catastrophe. Before passage of the infamous Fire Ordinance Number 2156 restricting rebuilding in the burned area, Mayor T.D. Evans made his

intention clear in a June 14, 1921, message before the City Commission:  "Let the Negro settlement be placed farther to the north and east. A large portion of this district is well suited for industrial purposes rather than for residences. We should immediately get in touch with the entire railroad with a view to establishing a union station on this ground. Mary Jones Parrish chronicled her observation in a 1922 publication, Events of the Tulsa Disaster. She wrote: "With homes looted, homes and stores burned to ashes, with the sick, aged, and enfeebled carried out or left to perish in the flames; mothers giving birth to children in the open, herded, coralled and guarded like prisoners of war, and before the sum of 1,000 homes had blown away, the trembling homeless learned that the city fathers had passed an ordinance making it forever impossible for them, in their destitute condition, to go back and rebuild on their own home place. " The fire ordinance was passed into law. Tulsa attor-law and to rebuild on their property with any materials," crates, boxes, anything," at their disposal. Wooden shacks began to dot the charred landscape. Blacks filed a lawsuit -- Joe Lockard v. City of Tulsa, requesting permission of the court to rebuild and to enjoin the city from enforcing the ordinance. Franklin erected a tent office at 605 E. Archer and would be joined by P.A. Chappelle and I.H. Spears as attorneys of record.

In his autobiography, Franklin wrote of the incident. "While the ashes were still hot from the holocaust, certain questionable real-estate men influenced the mayor and City Commission to enact an ordinance prohibiting owners from rebuilding unless They erect fireproof buildings. " That possibility for many black landowners, many of whom were now impoverished, was prohibitive. In five days, the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of their petition.

Many of the home and business owners held insurance. In testimony before the State Supreme Court, the insurance companies claimed that the properties were destroyed by riot and such a cause of damage was excluded from fire provisions of the policies. The court agreed and the cases were lost.