Lawsuit filed against VCU over slave burial ground

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A second lawsuit has been filed -- this time against Virginia Commonwealth University -- over a parking lot where slaves are said to be buried underneath.

A former Richmond City Council member filed the lawsuit this morning against the university. Sa'ad El-Amin is asking a judge to order an injunction to prohibit cars from even parking in this lot.

"We say get your asphalt off of our ancestors," said the Executive Director of the Richmond NAACP, King Salim Khalfani.  The word "asphalt" was not pronounced correctly for emphasis. That's been his battle cry since August 2009, when VCU first paved it's new lot.

Earlier this year, Sa'ad El-Amin filed suit against the State Department of Historic Resources asking a judge to force an excavation.

Now El-Amin is suing VCU. He's asking a judge to stop allowing cars to park here. He believes this is the spot where thousands of one-time slaves were buried. "What it says is that, the dignity of our ancestors falls behind the convenience of parking cars. That's crazy," he said.

The Department of Historic Resources says most of the site was covered by Interstate 95 and that only a portion is under the lot. VCU set aside that 50 feet, but El-Amin says that's not enough.

"It's a problem. It's an enormous disrespectful action," he said.

A VCU spokesperson said the university does not comment on pending litigation. Pam Lepley did say, as a state entity, VCU cannot legally donate or give away the land. She also said, VCU would agree to sell it or trade it with another government entity.

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