Lawsuit filed for testing of slave burial site - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Lawsuit filed for testing of slave burial site

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By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A previous study found that only a small portion of the VCU owned parking lot on 15th and East Broad is part of the African burial ground. But the NAACP and other organizations say an expert they consulted found the cemetery might encompass the entire lot. 

In order to know for sure a lawsuit has been filed. In the document the court is requested to order the Department of Historic Resources, or DHR, to conduct an archaeological test excavation. 

"Once the testing is done and it proves there are burial sites on that property, we say VCU get your asphalt off our people," said Sa'ad El-Amin, former Richmond City Councilman.

In a press conference several organizations challenged a DHR report which concludes that most of the burial ground is under I-95 and that only 50 feet extends into the parking lot. 

"Our expert says based on his studies and historical information that burial ground encompasses the entire parking lot. But the only way you'll know is to use state of the art archeological instruments to do the test wells," El-Amin said. 

VCU recently paved the lot -- an act some call a desecration. 

"That site will serve us better as a place of memorial, learning, and honesty," said Anna Edwards, who wants the site to be tested. 

The suit is essentially against Governor Tim Kaine who had no comment. In a statement a representative with DHR said, "We're confident in our research. This is an important issue. We have nothing further to say at this time." 

"This issue will not go away. We'll keep fighting," said Phil Wilayto.

When we reached out to VCU for a comment on this latest development a representative would only say that the school has agreed to set aside 50 feet of the parking lot for proper memorilization.

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