UPDATE: Lawsuit over slave burial ground heard in court - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

UPDATE: Lawsuit over slave burial ground heard in court

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A blow today in the fight to preserve a slave burial ground underneath a VCU parking lot.

This morning a judge rejected a former Richmond City Councilman's bid to require a state official to explore the boundaries of the burial ground under. "The struggle continues. We do not in anyway feel defeated nor do we feel despondent," said Sa'ad El-Amin.

El-Amin, a former Richmond city councilman, lost his bid to force Kathleen Kilpatrick, the director of the Virginia Department for Historic Resources, to explore the boundaries of the slave burial ground under VCU parking Lot C.

But he's not giving up on his main objective.

"Our goal is to get the cars off the lot as quickly as possible," El-Amin said.

There's no question this area was long ago used as a burial ground for thousands of African-Americans. But there are questions about the boundaries of that site.

A portion may be under Interstate 95 and part of it may under the parking lot

When dismissing the suit, the judge said Kilpatrick did her job and investigated the site. Kilpatrick said today, she doesn't think the cars should be there. "I do believe very strongly that we can do better. For a 195 years the burial ground has been ill treated," she said.

She says the site should be memorialized and that she's offered to help raise the $3 million to buy the site back from VCU. She says, she's told VCU officials they can't develop the land, but she says she has no authority to stop the university from using it as a parking lot.

"This case has never been about archealogy. It's been about how we memorialize the lives, the sacrifices and the final resting place of the people who are clearly buried in that area," said Kilpatrick.

El-Amin is turning his focus to VCU. He wants a judge to order the university to stop using the site as a parking lot.

The lawsuit against VCU has been filed but the University has not yet been served. El-Amin says he hopes to take that case before a judge in late November.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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