Four arrested at burial ground protest in Richmond

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Four people were arrested this morning at a peaceful protest at an old African American burial ground in Richmond at 1500 East Broad Street.

The four arrested include: Rolanda McMillan, Donnell Brantley, Phillip Wilayto and Autumn Barrett.

That burial ground is currently being used as a parking lot for VCU. But, changes are coming.

"The parking lot should have been closed already and it needs to be closed today," said one protester.

That was the loudest this small group of protestors got this morning, when several VCU Police Officers arrived to a blockade set up at this parking lot.

Protestors were blocking a parking lot that has been determined to be an old African American burial ground.

"We are pleased with the progress that is made. However, cars are still on the African American ground," says protestor Phil Wilayto.

But this protest left several people confused on where to park. Even a GRTC bus was blocked from its bus stop. It was at a bus stop where several people, including Heather Temple, were waiting.

"I think it's messing up everyone's day right now. I'm sure they have a good cause but it's disrupting everyone's work schedule," Temple said.

One driver was observed being given $2 by a protester -- just to keep her wheels off the burial grounds.

"We are calling on VCU to do the right thing to do the right thing and close this parking lot," Wilayto said.

This morning, VCU told us that on July 1, it will transfer this property to the city. Right now, VCU  is working on where to move the 400 people that park here everyday as quickly as possible.

Still, not soon enough for this group, who pointed to a marker as to why they caused some confusion for drivers this morning.

"It's a burial ground. And we'll be here until the asphalt is gone," protester Ana Edwards said.

The City of Richmond is applying for a $1 million federal grant to pay for the removal of the pavement. If the city does not get the money, we're told the city will pay for the project itself.

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