Four Arrested Protesting HOC’s Lack of Action on African Cemetery

Four people were arrested for disorderly conduct Wednesday night after a meeting of the Housing Opportunities Commission in Kensington. They were part of a group of about 30 people who came to urge the HOC to convey its Westwood Towers property in Bethesda to the Macedonia Baptist Church, which can properly care for the hundreds of slaves believed to be buried under the building’s parking lot.

“For the people getting arrested, this is a great honor,” said Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, one of the organizers of the protest, before the meeting started.

During the meeting, protesters broke into song and chants. Three police officers monitored the meeting, as one officer told the crowd three times they would be arrested. On the third time, the officers led four protesters behind a security door into a side room. The four, which included Coleman-Adebayo, emerged about 10 or 15 minutes later.

During the meeting, the seven-member HOC said little to the protesters.

After her arrest was processed by police Coleman-Adebayo said, “By the time they are having people arrested, it means they are at the end of their tactics. … They have depleted whatever moral recourse they have.”

She said the protesters would return next month for Black History Month, and months afterward — “until we rescue the cemetery from these real criminals.”

The protesters came equipped with a number of signs: “Black Ancestors Matter,” read one. Another said, “Save MoCo’s Black History.”

The meeting was monitored by Tiffany Ward, an aide to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich.

“I want to make sure everybody gets a fair chance to say their piece and protest as they are rightfully entitled to do,” Ward said before the meeting started.

Editor’s note: This story originally misidentified the Bethesda property built above the cemetery.

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About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug


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