CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — The Clearwater staffing firm, FrankCrum, is suing the city after hundreds of graves were discovered on its property.
It’s not the first forgotten graveyard to be revealed in the Tampa Bay area. The graves were found on a portion of the FrankCrum campus along S. Missouri Ave.
Over the last few years, archaeologists from the University of South Florida’s Public Archaeology Network confirmed dozens of graves of African Americans were found at what is now the site of the company in Clearwater.
They used ground-penetrating radar to make the discovery.
For decades, members of the Clearwater Heights community believed some graves were left behind at the site when St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery moved.
On Sept. 29, FrankCrum filed a formal complaint against the city.
“Since we first became aware of the potential that graves were still on this land, FrankCrum has been working closely with our local community members, the NAACP and the City to find a resolution that corrects this wrong and that honors the departed and their loved ones,” Matt Crum, Co-President of FrankCrum, said in a statement. “We support the request the NAACP made to the City early this year and we have been disappointed that the City has not acted by now. And so, we have filed a formal complaint in which we seek to have the burial remains ‘finally and respectfully relocated’ and to compensate the FrankCrum company for damages. The complaint cites a warranty the City provided when it sold the land to a developer in 1998. That agreement stipulates that the building site … does not presently include human remains from any cemetery; notwithstanding the fact that the Global Center Site at one time did include a cemetery site, such cemetery has been previously transferred from the Global Center Site and all human remains associated therewith have also been so transferred. Our preference was and still is to work collaboratively with the City, but since no progress has been made in over three years, we are now forced to use the legal system to move this matter forward.”
The City of Clearwater said in a statement:
“We continue to work in partnership with the NAACP, descendants of the buried and community members to move forward with a memorial in the North Greenwood community to honor the loved ones at the school burial site as well as those at the FrankCrum site. The city of Clearwater has hired the firm of GrayRobinson to represent us in the FrankCrum litigation and we will not be commenting further on that pending litigation.“