The U.S. Department of Justice has announced a proposed settlement with an Oklahoma bank to address allegations of discriminatory practices in lending against Black and Hispanic peoples living in the Tulsa area.
The practice of redlining is the denial of credit to people based on their race or nationality. This bank has been accused by some sources of using this method from 2017 until at least 2021.
According to the proposed agreement, the bank will provide credit opportunities of $1.15million in the Tulsa region for communities of color.
The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it and a bank in northeastern Oklahoma have proposed an agreement to settle allegations of discrimination in lending to Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities in the Tulsa region.
According to the Justice Department, American Bank of Oklahoma, based in Collinsville, used the illegal practice of redlining in Tulsa neighborhoods with a majority of Black and Hispanic residents, including in the area of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
The court must approve the proposed consent agreement that was filed on Monday in federal court in Tulsa. It calls for ABOK, Inc. to offer $1.15 in credit opportunities within neighborhoods of color throughout Tulsa.
In a press release, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke from the Department’s Civil Rights Division stated that “this agreement will expand investment in Black and communities of colour in Tulsa as well as increase opportunities for home ownership and financial stability.”
Clarke stated that the “remedial provisions” in the agreement would create opportunities to build generational wealth, while focusing on the neighborhoods which bear the scars from the Tulsa Race Massacre.
ABOK denied these allegations, but stated in a press release that they agreed with the proposal because it would save them money and avoid the distractions of a lengthy legal battle.
In a statement, Bank Chief Executive Joe Landon stated that ABOK is a small, community bank, with branches located in Collinsville and Ramona. It also has Disney, Disney, and Skiatook. The Justice Department referred to the 1921 Race Massacre.
Landon stated that “as Oklahomans we feel a deep sense of sadness for the tragic events which occurred in Tulsa Race Massacre a century ago.”
In the 1921 Massacre , hundreds of Black residents were killed by an angry white mob that descended upon a 35-block Greenwood area, looting it, killing its residents, and then burning it down. Thousands more were made homeless and forced to live in an internment camp.
Three known survivors of the Black District massacre are appealing a decision that dismissed their lawsuit for reparations against the city and defendants.
Landon stated that the bank would expand its deposit products, add mortgages and refinancing in Tulsa, and open a loan production office in an historically Black part of the city.
The Justice Department stated that the bank would also provide at minimum two mortgage loan officers to neighborhoods with a majority of Black and Hispanic residents, and will host at least six consumer education seminars each year with Spanish translation and interpretation.
ABOK will also hire a director of community lending who will oversee lending in Tulsa’s neighborhoods of color.