African American Cemetery Damaged in Loudoun County

Sheriff's deputies are investigating if the Northern Virginia cemetery was vandalized

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Damage was discovered at a historic African American cemetery in Loudoun County, Virginia, and authorites are investigating whether it was vandalism.

Pastor Michelle Thomas, who is the president of the Loudoun County NAACP, said she discovered Monday her son's burial site appeared to be vandalized at the African American Burial Ground for the Enslaved at Belmont. Her 16-year-old son Fitz Thomas was buried there in 2020 after he drowned.

Michelle Thomas said stones that friends had neatly stacked at his gravesite in tribute to him were knocked down, smashed and scattered.

"The memorial had been dismantled. I noticed the rocks were scattered out," Thomas said. "I didn’t sleep a wink last night."

She said she searched for other possible explanations for the damage, but returned on Tuesday convinced that it was vandalism and that the cemetery was intentionally targeted.

"This is the work of human hands with a heart full of hate. This is the work," Thomas said.

Thomas called the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office, and deputies came to the cemetery to investigate.

Other areas of the cemetery appeared vandalized. A basket of flowers placed near the gravestones for the enslaved was found in a pond, and a vase of flowers was found broken in front of a historic house at the site.

Thomas has been the driving force behind the preservation and creation of the cemetery.

She said it's the first time she's seen such damage there in the six years since it was dedicated.

"Do I take it personally? Obviously. This is my son's final resting palce. It is sacred. This entire burial ground is sacred. It stores our African American history," she said.

Members of the community plan to come together at the cemetery Wednesday to show they are united.

There are no security cameras at the historic burial ground but Thomas said she’s now considering installing some.

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