Tampa residents forced to move after 120 coffins were found under apartment complex

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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.

This image is a 3D laser scan of Robles Park Village showing subsurface results in relation to the buildings. The red and/or blue rectangles represent buried objects in the shape of graves superimposed on the 3D imagery. These results are from two different data sources and they align with historical maps of the former Zion Cemetery – Tampa Bay.

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.”

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.

Graphic: Watch video of man crushed to death by elevator at a New York building

Robles Park Village is home to 1,118 people in 483 units across 67 buildings, according to reports.


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