Friday, February 08, 2019

3 cemetery protesters arrested at HOC meeting

Three citizens protesting the stonewalling of the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission on the desecration of the Moses African Cemetery on the Westwood Tower property in Bethesda were arrested at the commission's monthly meeting this week. Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, and Macedonia Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Segun Adebayo were among those issued citations by Montgomery County police for refusing to leave the public meeting.

Protesters knelt at the front of the commission dais holding crocheted tombstones bearing flowers of African nations, and the names of several ancestors known to be buried in the cemetery, which was desecrated in the late 1960s during construction of Westwood Tower. Contrary to rumors being circulated by the Montgomery County cartel, the cemetery was never relocated prior to the 1960s construction. Those rumors are just that - there is not a single official document of evidence for any such relocation, which requires a formal public process overseen by the State of Maryland. In contrast, the cemetery is shown in land records and burial announcements, as well as in the similar public process that was required to establish it in the beginning.

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition leading the effort to restore the sanctity of the cemetery and establish a memorial and museum on the site will be meeting with Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, one of the few County elected officials to offer support for the cause. Slavin has also been engaged on the issue in recent years.

Among notable figures testifying in support of the Moses Cemetery were the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, and Robin Ficker.