SILVER SPRING, Md (WDVM) — Activists marched toCounty Executive Marc Elrich’s house Thursday afternoon looking to preserve a historic African cemetery.
For weeks, the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition has been calling on officials to stop construction on River road in Bethesda at a site where reportedly hundreds of African bodies have been buried for hundreds of years.
The Coalition continued their protest with a march to the house of Executive Elric, demanding the construction by Bethesda Self Storage cease and a study be done on the site to find evidence of human remains.
Demonstrator Lucy Perez spoke at the march, telling attendees to stay positive about their movement and to not let anyone cover up who is buried at that construction site.
“You spoke out for someone, for people who could not speak for themselves,” Perez said. “The truth is there are bodies that were kidnapped and then thrown away on River Road.”
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo of the Coalition said they are demonstrating in front of Executive Elrich’s house demanding he use his powers to stop the construction.
“If he doesn’t do the right thing, we will vote him out,” Coleman-Adebayo said.
Executive elrich has released a statement on the protests saying he is willing to ask the property owner for the construction to pause, but does not have the authority to order a moratorium on the construction.
“I understand the concern that the disrespect of the cemetery is part of the history of racism in Montgomery County and I want to see memorialization of the cemetery and the true history told. While the treatment of the property at 5204 River Road (owned and being developed by Bethesda Self Storage) had not been part of the discussions regarding the Moses Cemetery, I do understand the concerns raised and am willing to ask the owner to pause construction work while issues about the delineation of the cemetery are addressed. I would note that to date discussions have revolved around property owned by the Housing Opportunities Commission -Parcel 175, and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission – Parcel 177. I do not have the authority to order a moratorium on construction on the property owned by Bethesda Self Storage at 5204 River Road.”Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich