15 gravestones at historic Black cemetery vandalized

The headstones at Evergreen Cemetery in East Austin were sprayed with blue paint, a discovery made on Monday morning.

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A historically Black cemetery in East Austin was vandalized this past weekend. Fifteen headstones were sprayed with blue paint, a discovery made on Monday morning by the Parks and Recreation Department in Austin. 

The messages vary, however, according to a local news report. One reads “Kirk,” while another appears to read “AIDS.” Yet another has a sideways 8, the infinity symbol. John Nixon, of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, says the stones chosen appear to be random. 

Evergreen Cemetery was established in 1926 for Austin’s African American community. Nearly a century later, East Austin still has the city’s largest Black population. 

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Prominent members of the Black community are buried in Evergreen Cemetery. Dr. L. June H Brewer, one of the first African American students admitted to the University of Texas graduate school in 1950 and later an English professor at Huston-Tillotson College, rests at the historic cemetery. 

It is also the resting place for Oscar Leonard Thompson, the first Black graduate at the University of Texas.

Natalie Marshall told an Austin CBS News affiliate that one of the gravestones of a family member was vandalized.

“This is not just a random act of vandalism; there is a purpose, there is a purpose behind this,” she said. 

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“At the end of the day, the Black community is all damaged. We’re all damaged because of this,” said Victor Reed, an East Austin resident, told KVUE. “We got them disgracing our dead. That’s just a sad sight, what’s going on in this city. This is another assault on the Black person in this city, and no one seems like they want to address these issues, and I’m wondering why.” 

“We’re sick of, kind of waking up to, you know, different offenses that take place to us. I’m asking for community members to start coming out, to start speaking up,” said Reed. “Its actions have only brought our ancestors in this community closer. We love and value our ancestors, and I have full confidence that the thug/thugs who did this will be dealt with accordingly.”

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