HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A METRO project led to a startling discovery in Houston's Fifth Ward, and now Mayor Sylvester Turner is asking officials to hit pause until these graves are relocated.
Construction crews found graves that were supposed to be in Evergreen Cemetery, a historic Black gravesite on Lockwood that dates back to the 1890s.
"You have slaves who were buried in this cemetery. You have residents of Fifth Ward buried here. You have Buffalo soldiers buried here, veterans from World War I buried here. So, a number of notable individuals are buried here," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
In the 1940s, the city of Houston built a two-lane road, now known as Lockwood, right through the cemetery, according to the mayor, but the reality is, a lot of infrastructure done during this time cut through a lot of African American assets or spaces.
Turner says the construction of Lockwood split the cemetery, and all the graves were supposed to have been relocated in the 1960s, but apparently some were missed.
Thirty-three gravesites and the remains of three people were discovered under the esplanade.
"This discovery is both disturbing and disappointing, and it is clear that the city and its contactors did not remove all of the persons that were buried in Evergreen Negro Cemetery," Turner said in a Monday press conference.
Turner has asked METRO to halt the project so the city can investigate what else is in the area. He said those newly discovered graves will be respectfully located to the current cemetery.