Residents at a Tampa apartment complex in Florida are being forced to move after a shocking discovery on Friday. A ground-penetrating radar detected what appear to be more than 120 coffins under the apartment complex, Tampa Bay reported
It turns out, the residents have been living on top of the city’s first African American cemetery.
The 2½-acre, segregation-era burial ground, was reportedly established in 1901 along the 3700 block of Florida Ave. and extended back around 400 feet.
“This grassy area has the bulk of remains,” said Connie Burton, who lived at the Robles Park Village on Florida Avenue for about 20 years.
“As a child, we had heard that this used to be a memorial site but we paid little attention to it because you know, at the time we needed housing,” Burton added.
The president of Hillsborough County’s NAACP, Yvette Lewis, said she was shocked about the discovery.
“It’s time for the city to right its wrong,” Lewis said.
Lewis said for these black pioneers who died in a still-fledgling city, there is no rest.
“People’s resting place are where they are supposed to rest,” Lewis said. “And the souls can’t even rest because it has been disturbed.”
BREAKING: Ground-penetrating radar has detected what appear to be more than 120 coffins under an apartment complex in Tampa, the remains of the lost cemetery revealed by the Tampa Bay Times.https://t.co/A2RufDrMaf
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) August 30, 2019
Burton commended the housing authority for the way they handled this revelation. She said she was pleased the housing authority is turning the cemetery site into a memorial.
The housing authority will relocate all the people living at the five Robles Park Village buildings that occupy the burial ground, all in the 200 block of East Stratford and East Kentucky avenues.
Robles Park Village is home to 1,118 people in 483 units across 67 buildings, according to reports.