'It’s disrespectful:’ Debris, trash dumped in historic cemeteries

'It’s disrespectful:’ Debris, trash dumped in historic cemeteries
Volunteers working to repair Richmond’s historic African-American cemeteries are frustrated, after someone dumped old furniture and debris in two locations.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Volunteers working to repair Richmond’s historic African-American cemeteries are frustrated after someone dumped old furniture and debris in two locations.

“Don’t do it. Do you want this dumped on your front lawn, on the graves of your family?" asked John Shuck, who leads efforts to clean and preserve historic cemeteries. "We’re volunteers just trying to clean up these cemeteries and you just make a big mess for us.”

East End and Woodland Cemeteries have fallen victim to illegal dumping, despite on-going efforts to keep them clean and preserve the history. After Shuck received a called from Clarence Beasley about a pile of pine tree debris almost five-feet-tall, he went out to the site, frustrated at the lack of respect.

“I hoped it would be along the road where it would be easy to pick up, but it’s here on top of graves," he said.

Shuck and Beasley say it has taken the work of volunteers and those like Beasley, who have loved ones buried in the cemeteries to maintain them.

“When I started this project, the grass was as tall as I am and I am about 6-feet-tall,” said Beasley.

He, in many ways, has adopted Woodland Cemetery, it’s where his parents and several family members are buried. Beasley bought a lawn mower and spends time clearing overgrown graves and preserving plots. Beasley says he was “highly upset” to find a pile of brush and almost a dozen buckets of weed killer on and near someone’s grave.

“It’s just disrespectful and disgusting that their graves have been left like this,” he explained. “I don’t know who did it, but they need to be found and they need to be prosecuted.”

Shuck reached out to Henrico Police about the issues, but he and Beasley are hoping the community will continue to step up, respect and preserve the final resting place of so many.

“Somebody has to do it,” said Beasley.

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