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Intermountain Forensics to assist in the Tulsa Race Massacre DNA identification

Updated: Jun 27




It is my honor to announce that the City of Tulsa has chosen Intermountain Forensics to help identify bodies thought to be associated with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. This is a historic opportunity for our laboratory to provide some clarity and peace to the families and communities impacted by these horrific events.


For those that are not aware of the history of this dark day, we sincerely hope this serves as an opportunity to learn of the events of this tragedy in our nation's history. In the early morning of June 1, 1921 white rioters burned and looted the Greenwood district of Tulsa, an affluent African American community also sometimes referred to as "Black Wall Street". In the wake of this violence, the community was absolutely decimated and hundreds of victims were injured or killed. The official count of those dead was recorded as 36, however historians estimate that number could be as high as 300.


In speaking to people in the lead up of the award of this contract to our laboratory, I was struck by the sheer number of people that had no knowledge of the history of these tragic events. I have taken this as an opportunity to educate myself and implore those friends, family, supporters and colleagues of our laboratory to do this same.


Tulsa Race Massacre Links:

https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/1921-tulsa-race-massacre/

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/opinion/tulsa-race-massacre-teaching-history.html


In 2018, the City of Tulsa announced that it would reexamine potential graves possibly asssociated to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. An oversight committee was established and a transparent and thorough process of identifying and exhuming potential grave sites was undertaken. The City of Tulsa has provided an informational website documenting the process and results of this investigation thus far.


Tulsa Graves Investigation

https://www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves


An update on the status of the project reported on June 25th, 2021 (https://www.cityoftulsa.org/press-room/1921-graves-investigation-update-june-25/) stated that the focus of the investigation would began to transition to the forensic analysis of human remains retrieved as a result of the exhumation. Subsequently, an exhaustive search for a laboratory to facilitate this forensic DNA processing and our laboratory, Intermountain Forensics was chosen.


To say that we are honored to undertake this responsibility is an understatement. We hope to provide a transparent, thorough and exhaustive investigation of these remains. You will see many more posts and information from us as the laboratory work unfolds. While some aspects of this work will require confidentiality to ensure privacy for those impacted, this process will be as transparent as we can make it. We hope to involve the community and invite all those interested to participate and feedback with our progress and investigation. The gravity of this task is monumental and we will leave no stone unturned in order to provide results.


If you feel inclined to assist us with this project, we have created a dedicated donation page for the Tulsa DNA Identification. This money will be used to offset costs for the work on this project. I cannot think of a more noble cause to support. Intermountain Forensics is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.

https://givebutter.com/tulsadna


Sincerely,

Danny Hellwig

Laboratory Director

Intermountain Forensics

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