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Billboards come down from Black cemetery in Berkeley

Six billboards were recently taken down from Washington Park Cemetery
Credit: AP
A billboard towers over a grave marker in the African-American Washington Park Cemetery in Berkeley, Mo., Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

BERKELEY, Mo. — Billboards that had stood over an African American cemetery in suburban St. Louis are coming down.

The removal this week of the six lighted billboards is the result of a settlement in a lawsuit that alleged the signs desecrated the memory of people buried in Washington Park Cemetery in Berkeley, Missouri.

“It is a great day. that the signs are coming day especially in this moment of Black Lives Matter that is going on around the country," said Wanda Brandon, a volunteer whose mother and grandmother are buried in the cemetery.

DDI Media, the St. Louis-based company that owns the signs, said in a statement that it had been working on a long-term solution that would have provided resources to make improvements to the cemetery before the lawsuit was filed.

“While we had hoped to be part of the solution to address the long-term future of the cemetery, we are not willing to go through ongoing and costly litigation to help," the statement said.

The signs are not technically on cemetery land because DDI in the 1980s bought the parcel along Interstate 70 from the cemetery’s previous owner at one of the busiest sections of roadway in Missouri, just across from Lambert Airport. But the lawsuit described their presence as “disrespectful.”

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