Historic Freedmen's Town bricks damaged

Crews began tearing up bricks in historic Freedmen's Town, and both citizens and Mayor Sylvester Turner are outraged.

HOUSTON - Activists in the Houston area say part of Houston’s history was destroyed  Monday morning in Fourth Ward.

Contractors damaged bricks where freed slaves first settled in Houston after the civil war, known as Freedmen’s Town.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said this work was not authorized, should never have happened, and that no one should have touched Andrew Street without his authorization.

Cell phone video shot by a neighbor around 8 a.m. this morning showed crews digging into the bricks with heavy machinery on Andrews Street near Genesee.

It was part of work the city says has been going on for about a year on a drainage project.

The bricks were made and laid by former slaves and their descendants more than 100 years ago. The area has been on the National Register of Historic Places for more than 30 years.

The woman who confronted the crews say they didn't stop digging until she threatened to call federal officials.

Last year, a court injunction stopped brick removal in another part of Freedmen's Town.

The city's trying to find out if an archeologist working on this project was actually out there this morning. City officials released a statement, saying in part:

"We recognize the important place these bricks hold in the history of our city, and we will continue to work with the community to preserve the historical setting of the area.

"When the intersection is complete, these historic bricks will be reinstalled with improved infrastructure. The intersection and the disturbed area will be restored with bricks within the next three months. The relocated bricks will be placed on a solid foundation to halt the current rate of aging of this section of the street.

"This area is not within the boundaries of the Andrews St. project which was the subject of a temporary restraining order.

"As with all city projects, the community is encouraged to call 3-1-1 with questions or concerns."


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