AUSTIN (KXAN) — Volunteers with the Black Austin Coalition spent Wednesday cleaning bright blue spray paint off headstones at a historically Black cemetery.
City officials say 15 headstones at Evergreen Cemetery in east Austin were vandalized over the weekend. Some family members are now demanding justice for those responsible.
“We want to see change in our community,” said Victor Reed.
He says he was angry and disappointed Monday after learning someone desecrated Evergreen Cemetery. Reed says several members of his family are buried there, and he believes this location was targeted, because it’s a predominately Black cemetery.
“We want to actually come out here and see that our gravesites are respected. You know this is a sad, sad thing that happened in this city, but it only shows where the behavior of this city is going to,” he said.
In addition to organizing the cleanup, the Black Austin Coalition also created an online petition for additional surveillance and security at the cemetery to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“This is our ground; this is our soil. We got our blood in the ground here, and we got to protect it,” said Nook Turner with the organization. “We have to get educated on the value of it, and we have to understand what we need to do moving forward, so things like this never happen again.”
Melinda Arias says she heard about the vandalism through social media and decided to get involved. Her family has lived in east Austin for decades, but Arias says now, she barely recognizes the community she grew up in.
“It definitely reflects a change in the community, in a direction that I don’t feel comfortable, where I feel like a stranger in my own city,” she said. “It just doesn’t feel like what it used to be.”
The Austin Police Department says it’s investigating the vandalism.