Maryland court hears case on historic African American burial ground

A Maryland court heard arguments Thursday in a case involving a historic African American cemetery in Bethesda.

Montgomery County’s Housing Opportunities Commission owns a parking lot for a high-rise apartment complex on Westbard Avenue just off River Road, where the Moses Cemetery was located. It was paved over to create the parking lot.

The commission, which owns the building, wants to sell it, but a judge has blocked that sale. It has asked Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals, the state’s second highest court, to overturn that decision.

Frederick Douglas, an attorney for the Housing Commission, said the judge who blocked the sale made an “erroneous finding” concerning rights in the case.

Steve Lieberman, an attorney for the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition which is trying to stop the sale, said in the hearing that Maryland law provides a degree of protection where there is a sale of property like this.

He told WTOP that the housing commission should be focused on memorializing the site and “not allow cars to drive over 200 human beings every day.”

A decision is expected in four to six weeks.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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