RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. (CBS13) — A group of inmates may finally solve a lingering racist eyesore that community members have been lobbying to fix for nearly a decade.
The Mormon Island Relocation Cemetery sits on the line between Sacramento and El Dorado County, and neither county has taken steps to replace 36 gravestones that have the n-word carved into them.
The Army Corps of Engineers has accepted responsibility for authorizing the creation of the grave markers decades ago but say the responsibility is no longer theirs.
Negro Hill Burial Ground Project director Michael Harris has been working to correct the markers and asked Congressman Dan Lungren (R-Sacramento) to help “close the deal” on fixing the problem.
Lungren applauded Harris’ efforts but didn’t commit to getting involved.
“I believe local authorities are moving in the right direction,” Lungren said.
El Dorado County officials said recent media attention may have provided a solution to the issue. Prisoners at nearby Folsom State Prison saw a news story on the disparaging tombstones and offered to “make the 36 replacement gravestones, remove the old ones and install the new ones,” at no cost to El Dorado County, according to county supervisor John Knight.
“The fact that prisoners, incarcerated, can watch a news story about us making a request and they’re getting deference, and our work for over a decade is thrown in the trash once again,” Harris said.
The issue is expected to be brought up before the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors May 24.
A mediator for the Department of Justice, which investigates hate crimes, confirmed the agency is involved in the issue but did not offer details.