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Researchers complete third day of search for mass graves with public concern

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For a third day, researchers scanned the Oaklawn cemetery, working to find anything usual that might indicate a mass grave on Oct. 9, 2019. (KTUL photo){ }

For a third day, researchers scanned the Oaklawn cemetery, working to find anything usual that might indicate a mass grave.

“it’s going slow because of the weather. We have lost maybe an hour, hour and a half but we are getting things accomplished. But I am pleased despite the weather,” said Dr. Scott Hammerstedt of the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey.

The rain fell like tears, one hundred years old, for the bodies some believe may have been dumped in the cemetery after the Race Massacre of 1921.

“If they don’t find something, that is not proof that nothing happened. The lack of evidence is not the evidence of absence,” said Dr. Robert Turner, who is a pastor and also serves on the public oversight committee.

He and other members of the committee are concerned about where the researchers are looking. They would like the researchers to scan under the IDL, which has been considered and somewhat rejected.

“The fact there is so much rebar that is put in concrete in highways especially on bridges, is going to cause a lot of problems for our machines. And I just don’t think we are going to be able to penetrate it,” said Hammerstedt.

Not looking there, is a problem for Turner.

“If they don’t look under the IDL, this whole thing is for show.”

Only days into the search, community leaders want to expand what they are calling a murder investigation to search for evidence.

“We are not talking about a lost coat, or a lost gym clip, lost dogs, we are talking about lost human beings,” said Turner, who has offered to have any found remains buried at his church, Vernon A.M.E. in the historic Greenwood District.

The search at Oaklawn Cemetery is expected to wrap up on Thursday. The search is then set to begin at Newblock park, but weather conditions may not permit that until next week.

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