145 graves discovered at Tampa high school
About 145 coffins were on Wednesday found buried under a Tampa high school in Florida.
According to Tanya Arja, a spokeswoman for the school district, records indicate that the site could hold the remains of more than 250 people, nearly all of whom were African American, the school district said.
School officials said the caskets are believed to be part of Ridgewood Cemetery, a historic paupers burial ground from the early 1940s that was owned by the city.
Arja further told CNN that officials began investigating last month after a person told a school board member of the possible location of the cemetery.
For nearly two weeks, technicians hired by the district used ground penetrating radar to confirm the location of the caskets.
The coffins were reportedly buried 3-5 feet deep in about an acre of open land near a small building used by school’s agricultural program.
“The pattern of the findings matches with historical records of a one-acre cemetery on the site,” said Arja.
The area has been fenced off since last month and will remain like that for the time being.
The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner and the state’s archeologists are also expected to review the district’s findings in the next 30 days.
Yvette Lewis, President of the Hillsborough branch of the NAACP however told CNN that she was saddened to learn that another site had been discovered.
“I am sick of this. This hurts. Deeply. That we can be thrown away and nobody tells our history. Nobody is telling these people’s history and these people’s story,” Lewis said.
The agencies will decide whether they will take possession of the land or turn it back to the school district, officials said.
It is however not the first time that a forgotten burial site is discovered in the city.
In September, residents of an apartment complex in Tampa were forced to move after learning they had been living at the site of Zion Cemetery — likely the first African American burial ground in the city, CNN affiliate WFTS reported.