Anna Hopkins

New database would protect lost African-American burial sites

New legislation proposed to Congress last week would protect lost African-American burial grounds, and green-light the creation of a database for tracking the historic areas.

Burial sites with the remains of enslaved or segregated African-Americans over the last few centuries are often uncovered during new construction nationwide, because they are not registered with state or local departments, according to Forbes. The new legislation, proposed on Wednesday by Congressman A. Donald McEachin, who represents Virginia’s 4th District, and Congresswoman Alma Adams, of North Carolina’s 12th District, would protect historic burial sites discovered as a part of the National Parks Service.

In addition to being registered with the NPS, the bill would also establish a federal nationwide database to record information about the spaces, as well as provide information for communities surrounding the burial grounds and secure funding for further research.

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The bill intends to “help communities identify and record burial grounds and preserve local history while better informing development decisions and community planning."

African-American burial sites have been steadily discovered for decades, but there has not been a nationwide initiative to centralize the information about them. Many of the graves remain unmarked and the grounds unannounced, leaving countless African-Americans in modern society without any information about where there ancestors’ remains lie.

In 1991, the largest reclaimed African-American burial site was discovered in New York. It is believed to be home to the graves of 15,000 slaves. About 419 sets of remains were found there, and the site has since been renamed and memorialized as the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan.

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More recently in New York, another African burial site was discovered in the East Harlem neighborhood in 2016. Local residents had reportedly claimed for many years that there were pre-Civil War remains underneath the 126th Street Bus Depot, and it was later revealed to be a former Dutch Reformed churchyard where black people were buried between the 17th and 19th centuries. Archaeologists discovered more than 140 bones and bone fragments, including an intact skull, acording to the Atlanta Black Star.

In Texas, the remains of 95 African-Americans were discovered at a construction site where a new school was being built about 20 miles from Houston in December. They had all been buried in pine boxes between the years of 1878 and 1911. Archaeologists also reportedly found chains near the unmarked graves. The individuals were thought to have been forced to work on sugar plantations long after slavery ended through a program called convict leasing, in which prisoners were "leased out" to provide manual labor.

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The new bill would allow the creation of the African American Burial Grounds Network, so that graveyards like those found in New York and Texas could be researched, documented and preserved.

Source: Fox News National

Aurora shooter brought gun to termination meeting, opened fire as soon as he was fired, police say

A disgruntled worker who went on a shooting rampage at a manufacturing warehouse in a Chicago suburb brought the weapon to his termination meeting and opened fire as soon as he was fired, police say.

Gary Martin, 45, was killed by police after he shot five people dead at the Henry Pratt Company on Friday in Aurora and injured 11, including five police officers. Officers believe that at least several of Martin’s victims were those present during his termination meeting, according to a statement obtained by CNN.

Martin worked for the plant for 15 years, and his firing was the result of multiple workplace rule violations, according to Scott Hall, the CEO of Mueller Water Products, which owns Henry Pratt Company.

Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman revealed the new information about Martin’s motives at a press conference on Saturday.

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"During this meeting he was terminated and my understanding from the witnesses is that he opened fire right after the termination," she said. "We believe that several people who were involved in that meeting are the ones who are deceased."

After opening fire during the meeting, Martin then ran down aisles of the manufacturing plant and was shooting people using a pistol with a green laser sight on it.

One employee of the plant said that a blood-soaked victim told him that Martin simply "went ballistic."

Law enforcement personnel gather near the scene of a shooting at an industrial park in Aurora, Ill., on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

Law enforcement personnel gather near the scene of a shooting at an industrial park in Aurora, Ill., on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. (AP)

The identities of his five victims were revealed on Saturday, and included Trevor Wehner, a college student on his first day of an internship with the company; Clayton Parks, a human resources manager; Josh Pinkard, a plant manager; Russell Beyer, a mold operator and Vicente Juarez, a stockroom attendant.

At least three of the five police officers he injured during the 90-minute shootout were still in the hospital as of Saturday, according to police.

Martin was not legally allowed to own a gun, and was illegally in possession of the one he used during Friday’s attack. In 2014, he passed a background check and purchased a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, but later was denied a concealed-carry permit because his background check revealed a felony conviction.

AURORA WORKPLACE SHOOTER WAS SET TO BE FIRED BY COMPANY, POLICE CHIEF SAYS

in 1995, Martin was convicted of aggravated assault in Mississippi. His Firearm Owner Identification Card was then revoked, and he was allegedly sent a letter ordering him to give up his weapon, though it is unknown whether he ever received it or if he failed to surrender the weapon.

In addition to his Mississippi conviction, Martin was also reportedly arrested several times in Aurora for traffic stops and domestic violence incidents. He was also charged in Oswego, Illinois, in 2017 for disorderly conduct and criminal damage to property, police say.

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The means by which he was still in possession of a firearm on Friday will be investigated along with the rest of the incident.

"We’re looking into whether we followed up on that, and what agencies followed up on that," Chief Ziman said.

Source: Fox News National


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