Saturday, April 08, 2017

Fact-checking the Westbard cemetery skeptics...again


Yellow area near center of
image is the cemetery site
between River Road and
Westbard Avenue
If you hear or read the false claim by anonymous commenters online that the African-American cemetery on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda was merely used for the one-time reburial of remains moved from the Fort Reno area in Northwest Washington - arm yourself with the truth. There's been another spike in such "fake news" in the last few days. These false claims are made to suggest no one from the River Road African-American community and Macedonia Baptist Church was buried in the cemetery. Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson, who on Thursday blocked testimony from the church and put the so-called "investigation" of the cemetery fully into the hands of the developer who would profit from building on top of the graves, also contradicted the internal report prepared by his own staff in wildly speculating about the possible removal of remains from the cemetery.

The facts: A black fraternal organization purchased the land for the cemetery in 1911. But burials at the cemetery that can be found in public records and announcements are recorded as late as the 1930s, long after the reburials of the Fort Reno remains. Cleveland Clipper, an actual resident of the River Road community, told local historian William Offutt that the road below the retaining wall behind McDonald's was called Outlet Road, and was used by funeral processions to reach the cemetery. And, as discovered during research by the Little Falls Watershed Alliance, an actual February 1935 obituary for Cora Botts - a resident of the River Road community - explicitly states that she will be interred in this cemetery.

"The question is whether those remains were moved, relocated at some point, and we'd like to get to the bottom of that," Anderson told NBC Washington on Thursday. Fact: There is no record whatsoever of any remains being removed from the cemetery after it was sold in 1958. Or in any year. Period.

If you don't believe me, consider what was stated by the Planning Department staff's internal report, which was withheld from the public and final Westbard sector plan:

"No evidence has been uncovered yet that human remains were relocated from the one-acre parcel."

A witness was directly told by construction workers who built Westwood Tower in the late 1960s that some remains were illegally relocated further down the slope behind the building. They were not removed from the site, and along with the graves that were not disturbed by excavation at that time, there is no evidence or reason to believe those remains are not still there.

Those claiming otherwise once again earn a Four Pinocchios/Pants on Fire rating.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent summary. I have read the Planning Department's original emails and you are presenting the facts accurately, Robert.

Anonymous said...

"A witness was told..."

You know what this is called, don't you?

Two syllables, begins with an "h", ends with a "y"...

Anonymous said...

"...the cemetery after it was sold in 1958."

Why did MBC sell it? Why did they abandon it?

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with that cemetery that a Starbucks couldn't fix.

Friends of Woodmont Triangle said...

We've never seen so many protests in the streets against local county government than we see today. Clearly, there's a lot of unrest among Bethesda and County residents at large in how the Council and Planning Board are operating.

It's heartening that citizens will defy this Council and Planning Board on moral grounds when necessary.

Robert Dyer said...

12:10: I think everyone would like to know the answer to those questions. All we can work with at the moment are the facts we know: there is no record of any legal exhumation of remains at the cemetery.

8:27: Yes, we need to continue to #resist the Montgomery County Planning Board and County Council on all of their immoral stands. The media shouldn't normalize them, either. This is an extraordinary time, with highly-corrupt officials having seized power in Montgomery County. That is indeed reflected in the citizen protests against the County Council and Planning Board, which are unprecedented.

The only demonstrations like this I've witnessed in decades here were organized by labor unions or other 3rd parties. In contrast, these are neighborhoods and actual residents in full revolt, against a corrupt leadership that has concluded it doesn't need to listen to us anymore.

Robert Dyer said...

12:00: No, moron, it's called the construction workers stating in front of the witness that they desecrated the cemetery. That's not the definition of hearsay. Did you get your law degree from a cereal box?

Robert Dyer said...

1:45: Is that you, Casey Anderson?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the events in question occurred 40-50 years ago, and most of the original participants are dead. Historic research on events past often has to rely on second-hand accounts.

Anonymous said...

1. MBC never owned the land. The land was owned by a fraternal organization that arranged burials for the community.

2. It has been stated that the African American landowners along River Road, including the fraternal organization that owned the cemetery, were forced out of their land by intimidation, misinformation and unfair dealing by developers and Montgomery County. Like the way that Native Americans were cheated of their lands. If so, it wouldn't be the first time that black Americans have been marginalized and mistreated.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the witness is the owner of the Citgo station on Westbard Avenue, whose father owned the station before him. Construction workers on the Westbard Towers project used the station to buy sodas on their breaks, and talked about what they were finding onsite. If I am correct, the witness heard that construction workers were finding human remains as they constructed Westbard Towers. That seems pretty credible to me.

Anonymous said...

8:21: Actually, the Westbard Towers construction was 50-60 years ago. That only strengthens your point-- many or most of the people who participated are dead. So pretty much the best we can do is rely on accounts of others.

Anonymous said...

12:00 pm and other readers/commenters: A February 23 story by Bill Turque in the Washington Post says that the witness, Tim Bonds, was told by construction workers that they were finding remains of bodies as they were building the Westbard site. That's direct evidence, not hearsay.

Anonymous said...

The construction workers didn't testify at the hearing. The witness at the hearing claimed that he heard the construction workers say that "they desecrated the cemetery." That is by definition "hearsay", you legal ignoramus.

Anonymous said...

"This is an extraordinary time, with highly-corrupt officials having seized power in Montgomery County."

They didn't "seize power". They were elected, you birdbrain.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:53 AM - "That's direct evidence, not hearsay."

Sorry, but you're wrong. It would be "direct evidence" if the construction workers themselves testified, or if the witness personally saw the bodies being moved.

Person A saying that "Person B told me that Person B did this", is hearsay.

Robert Dyer said...

And, by the way, I just want to clarify that Macedonia Baptist Church was not the owner who sold the cemetery. I didn't notice the skeptic had made that false connection.

Robert Dyer said...

9:09: What "hearing?" There was no hearing. The business owner stated what he was told. He was a witness to what was said by the PEOPLE WHO DESECRATED THE CEMETERY. That is not hearsay, you idiot. Hearsay would be if the witness stated that another business owner told him he had heard of this. In this case, the perpetrators confessed to the witness.

We have the other account of the architect's son, who admitted to Parks that bodies were found during excavation - a full decade after developer stooges like you and Anderson are falsely claiming they had been relocated.

Two witnesses, and recorded documents all indicate remains are on-site. And you have? That's right, zero witnesses, and zero documentation that supports your false claims. All you have is greed and a strong dose of racism, as your rush to build a garage proves black lives don't matter to the Montgomery County cartel.

Robert Dyer said...

9:21: So was Trump. But intelligence reports are telling us that developers may have influenced the outcome of the election of this Council. According to what's being claimed about Trump, that would make them an illegitimate County Council. #Resist

Anonymous said...

"The business owner stated what he was told. He was a witness to what was said by the PEOPLE WHO DESECRATED THE CEMETERY. That is not hearsay, you idiot. Hearsay would be if the witness stated that another business owner told him he had heard of this. In this case, the perpetrators confessed to the witness."

You don't have the slightest idea what you just said.

Anonymous said...

What's that much larger yellow area of yellow on the map, next to Little Falls Parkway?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Dyer would be as passionate about this case if the developer was building a Taco Bell rather than housing.

Anonymous said...

Just relocate the bones already!! This is so dumb.

Robert Dyer said...

4:13: Sorry, punk, it's not as simple as that. Is that going to be Hans Riemer's campaign platform in 2018? Good luck with that move in an election year.

2:18: Even fast food restaurants don't try to build on top of cemeteries. They leave those low-down dirty tactics to the Montgomery County cartel.

12:47: I'd like to know myself. I don't think it indicates a cemetery, because I know of at least 3 others that aren't shaded yellow on this map.

11:31: Cash me outside, how bou dat?

Anonymous said...

You fool Robert. They aren't building on the bones. They will attempt to locate them and move them. You're nuts.

Robert Dyer said...

5:10: They actually will be building on the graves if they do a sham investigation and declare there's nobody there.

How would you go down 60' or more, and then into clay with ground penetrating radar? It just won't work.

How would you excavate one or more acres and complete the study by mid-May? Impossible. Are they tearing up the parking lot? How will they get down under there and search, with 60'+ of fill dirt? In one month? Again, impossible.

The whole idea that this is a legitimate investigation is preposterous. If you think it's legit, YOU are the "fool."

Anonymous said...

LMAO at Dyer trying to argue that a hearsay witness is actually a direct wtness.

Robert Dyer said...

6:31: LMAO at a womanly coward who can't sign his name to his comments, and believes a trial has taken place. Wake up, moron. Two separate oral accounts corroborate that remains are still on the site. Evidence that remains were legally moved elsewhere? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Period. Wake up, idiot. [knock knock] Anybody home, McFly?

Anonymous said...

Dyer, I'm male and I don't consider women to be inferior, as you do. You have some serious gender issues. I guess you've written off 50% of the voters of Montgomery County.

Anonymous said...

Rude Robert - the property OWNERS will investigate. If they do not find remains, life will go on as it already has all these years. You and your church buddies can boycott if you are so inclined and skeptical of the development and investigation. No one will miss you :)By the way most medical studies for the medicines you take are sponsored by developers of the product - are those phony baloney too?

Robert Dyer said...

6:57: Too bad I never said women were "inferior." Is English your first language? You're the coward of the county, unable to stand up to Robert Dyer of all people, and too scared to put your name on your comments.

The only lower number than your IQ is your testosterone level.

Robert Dyer said...

7:17: The "property OWNERS" have to abide by the law. Although they apparently haven't realized it yet, they don't own the bodies of the former slaves buried there.

As the pastor said, "he who pays the piper, calls the tune."

Why do you think Regency Centers and the Planning Department don't want independent experts watching what they're going to do? If this was on the up and up, why wouldn't they welcome full transparency? Surely they aren't planning on hiding something...

Anonymous said...

You did indeed debase women in your "womanly coward" comment @6:44AM.

Your comment infers that being a coward is "womanly."
I've got a Marine for a sister who would completely disagree. You might want to rescind that comment before the summer.

Anonymous said...

You've just insulted a good portion of your alleged readers. why are you so nasty?
Poor 4:13PM sounds like they are tired of the conflict and just want a resolution. to that, you called them a "punk" and some gobbledygook Riemer related.

Then 6:31 is laughing because you will not admit you are wrong about "hearsay." (Call an attorney and ask him or her. I'm saying this in all kindness, please)
So you counter with he's a womanly coward among other insults, i.e idiot, McFly.

@6:57 was offended by your insult of women. You had some choice words for him also.

Not to mention all the women who read this.

So....You must be going somewhere else for charming your potential voters?

Robert Dyer said...

12:07: No, it's a coward who is behaving in an unmanly fashion. A real man would put his real name, or make these insults and threats face-to-face at these County Council meetings you claim to be stalking me at.

Robert Dyer said...

12:28: Anyone reading this in highly-educated Bethesda recognizes that all of the above "people" are just you, one troll, and they are applauding me for figuratively bodyslamming you through the coffeetable.

Every time you attack, I get more votes, because people get to see what kind of lowdown, low-class bullies the County Council uses as political operatives. Again, in a highly educated area, this is not a good look for you, or for the Council.

Anonymous said...

OMG, Robert. They are not me. I'm just commenting on how I view others. It's what I do in life. I observe and give my findings.

As to why I don't use my real name? Yarite. Who does that? But I will email you my real name and my address to prove to you that I am a Bethesda resident and not someone who works for anyone other than myself. I've offered before, many times.

I don't insult you. I just give you another view.

Since I'm female, I pretty much always behave in an "unmmanly fashion."

I'm not sure who is "applauding" you "body-slamming" me "through the coffeetable."
That's a pretty violent threat against someone for giving their honest view. You might want some new friends if that's how they think.

I don't understand why you ASSUME every comment is one person railing on you. Sometimes a question is just a question (like in another thread then I asked who WPC was) and sometimes a comment is just an observation.

Let me ask you. In a perfect world, how would this comment section look? Only comments reflecting your views? Only thanks for your story? No comments?

Looking forward to your civil reply.

Love & bacon,
12:07 & 12:28.


Anonymous said...

As to the other yellow shaded areas on the aerial photo, I'm wondering if they may be designating places and structures of some historical significance. The larger yellow area to toward the bottom may be the Loughboro mansion bordering Little Falls Parkway. The small rectangle in the middle of the photo would appear to be the Macedonia Church. The small one toward bottom right could be an older house in Green Acres.