On Wednesday the sign in front of Sweet Olive Cemetery received some much-needed help. No longer covered in red and black spray paint, the national treasure was wiped clean.
Officially dating back to 1898, according to the property’s website, Sweet Olive Cemetery was the first African American cemetery to be incorporated into Baton Rouge.
“[I’m] so grateful that individuals in the community have all been able to come together in such an expedient manner and take care of this,” Councilwoman Tara Wicker said.
Daniel Raby lives across the street from the cemetery. He says he’s happy the graffiti has been removed but thinks the cemetery has other problems that need to be resolved.
“It needs some tender love and care that’s for sure,” Raby said.
Tilted, decaying and even cracked, many graves at the Sweet Olive Cemetery are falling apart. But Raby says these issues don’t scratch the surface when it comes to what’s wrong with the capital cities first cemetery for African American’s.
“I’ve seen it where the grass is like 7ft tall,” Raby said. “[The cemetery has] a lot of open graves over here where you can literally see bones.”
Wicker says the cemetery doesn’t receive funding, so upkeep is done by family members of the deceased and volunteers. After Tuesday’s incident she says it’s clear more needs to be done.
“There needs to be a steady continuation of individuals and resources,” Wicker said. “We need this to be designated as one of those sacred places in the community.”
Wicker says her great grandmother is buried in the Sweet Olive Cemetery and is happy she can continue to rest in peace now that the graffiti has been wiped off.
Both Wicker and Raby say they’re hoping the community will help look after the graveyard.
“Slaves are buried over here and for that reason alone I would like to see it cleaned up,” Raby said.
BRPD is investigating and the authorities “believe the person(s) responsible for this have committed similar acts like this in the same area.”
Anyone who has any information is urged to call crime stoppers at 344-STOP.