Bethesda church protesting parking garage on African-American burial ground


Members of Macedonia Baptist Church and their supporters marched and rallied Sunday to oppose development, including a parking garage, on land that used to be home to a historically-black cemetery in Bethesda.


Church leaders say the cemetery existed until the 1960s, when it was covered by a parking lot for what is now the Westwood Towers Apartments off River Road.


According to local historian David Kathan, when crews did the excavation for the parking lot, they discovered human remains, yet went ahead with the paving anyway.


T"hey uncovered human remains and then there's also reports that a bulldozer pushed them down to the end of this property," said Kathan.


There are plans in the works to build a parking garage on the parking lot and church members feel the garage would obscure the burial site once again.


"We have an incredible amount of people who here just really do not want to see a further desecration of an African burial ground," said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, leader of Macedonia Baptist Church's social justice ministry.


"We've been met with a lot of disrespect and disregard, but nevertheless we continue to go back and we continue to plead our case," said Coleman-Adebayo.


Sunday, the church group and its supporters marched from the church to the cemetery site, chanted and held signs demanding the land be kept free of a parking garage. The next time the development will come up for public debate is unclear, but the group says it will continue to fight the idea.

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