Controversial brick removal project begins, but quickly halted

Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Controversial brick project put on hold
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Supporters of the Freedman's Town bricks believe the historic streets can be preserved

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Controversial construction in an area known as "Freedman's Town" began and was quickly halted Tuesday morning.

The issue centers on historic bricks laid in the area by freed slaves and their decedents more than 100 years ago.

Crews started removing the bricks. The work prompted the Freedmen's Town Preservation Coalition to take the battle back to court.

Just before 11am, the coalition said they secured a temporary restraining order. The work stopped moments after the coalition's president, Dorris Ellis Robinson, delivered paperwork to crews.

"Maybe it's not my mind, it's my heart," Robinson said. "My heart is sad, it's sad because we're destroying a legacy."

Pastor Samuel Smith of Mount Horeb Church said, "I am terribly hurt. I'm disturbed more than ever before because as they remove these bricks, even if they say they're doing something. They're going to put them back ... as they touch these bricks, they're destroying sacredness."

Robinson said the city did not act in good faith. In the past, city leaders claimed the sheer cost of the project, replacing infrastructure under the street, left them with few options.