By Attiyya Atkins

The Westview Community Cemetery controversy isn’t dead.

In fact, it’s more alive than ever. Instead of one board representing the historically black cemetery located at 1900 NW 24th Street, Pompano Beach, two boards now think the future of the property is in their hands.

Last year, the board of trustees that consisted of Walter Hunter, Evander Derico, Vincente Thrower, and Gary McLamore, entered into a deal which sold 4.5 acres of the 14-acre cemetery to developer KZ Copans. KZ Copans plans to build a storage facility on the property and agreed to fix up the disheveled cemetery.

Outrage, public discourse, legal proceedings, and the establishment of a steering committee followed on the premise that the sale of the cemetery was faulty and didn’t include the community’s wishes. The sale has been discussed at several planning and zoning and city commission meetings, and within a court of law. A court date was scheduled for Jan. 21, but the judge rescheduled due to COVID-19. A new court date hasn’t been set.

In January, after a vote at C&S events, a new board was instated consisting of Connie McGirt, Traniqua Hargrett, Kevin Eason, Ollie Eason, Jason Fuller, Quenton Thompkins, Edward Phillips, Lajill Holloway, and Sonya Williams Finney. The board plans to supersede the current board, stop the sale of the property, and improve upkeep of the cemetery.

Khambrel Davis of Davis and Davis PLLC, an attorney for the community, says that the new board is a community initiative and that the “community is acting well within the rights outlined in the bylaws.” He states that a meeting must take place in January to confirm the boards leadership. Members of the board represented by Hunter have failed to do so.

While Hunter’s board remains in possession of the premises, including keys and locks to the cemetery, the new board wants these items. Letters have been drafted telling the “old” board to relinquish their ownership and transfer the keys and locks to the “new” board.

Hunter told the New Pelican that the new board will not gain possession of the cemetery and doing so would be illegal. He told the New Pelican that “we are chartered with the state and we are legal.”

Still, the community is motivated to keep the integrity of the city’s black cemetery where many local leaders have been buried including actress Esther Rolle.

“I’m impressed with the community,” Davis said. “It’s a case of people of color standing up for what’s being taken away from them.”

The sale of the cemetery will be discussed in a court of law. Attorney Johhny McCray who also represents the community says the steering committee will provide transportation to the elderly who would like to testify as witnesses once the new court date has been set.

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