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Rothwell Figg Pro Bono Efforts Successful in Blocking Sale of Burial Ground for Former Slaves and Their Descendants

September 1, 2021

As a result of a pro bono lawsuit filed by Rothwell Figg, on September 1, 2021, a Maryland judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the sale of land that includes the historic Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland.

Filed on behalf of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition (BACC), the pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church, and members of the Black community in Bethesda, the lawsuit against the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) seeks to stop the sale of a burial ground for formerly enslaved Africans to a developer unless and until it complies with Maryland law that requires the seller of (and that is or was used as a burial ground) to bring an action in the county in which the burial ground is located so the court may decide whether, and under what terms and conditions, such a sale may take place. The temporary restraining order, issued by Montgomery County Circuit Court judge Karla Smith, blocks the sale of the land until at least the end of September when a hearing on Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction will take place.

Steven Lieberman, Jenny Colgate, D. Allen Lawson, and Kristen Logan of Rothwell Figg, and Jennifer Semko of Baker & McKenzie, represent the Plaintiffs in this case.

Featured photo taken by Gail Rebhan