The widow of a Louisiana Deputy who died Sunday was shocked to hear her husband couldn’t be buried at a cemetery near her house because it only allows whites to be buried there, local NBC affiliate KPLC-7 reported Wednesday.
According to the station, Allen Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Semien was diagnosed with cancer in December. In the last month and 9 days of his life, Semien talked with his family about burial plans, telling them he wanted to be laid to rest at Oaklin Springs Cemetery because it was close to home.
“It was in their by-laws that the cemetery was ‘white’s only,’” widow Karla Semien said. “I just kinda looked at her and she said ‘there’s no coloreds allowed.’”
“Just blatantly, with no remorse, I can’t sell you a plot for your husband,” says Semien’s daughter, Kimberly Curly.
As the report states, “the President of the Oaklin Springs Cemetery Association, Creig Vizena, outlined the clause in their by-laws, which says “the right of burial of the remains of white human beings…” It’s a cemetery contract which he says dates back to the 50′s.’
The Semien family says the anger they felt from racial remarks combined with the grief of losing a loved one is too much to process.
“There was nothing none of us could do, but we did it,” says Semien. “And to be told this is like we were nothing. He was nothing? He put his life on the line for them.”
“Everybody dies,” says Curly. “They bleed the same. You die. You’re the same color. Death has no color, so why should he be refused?”
The family says they then called around to other cemeteries double-checking if they accepted any kind of body – whether it be white, black, or Hispanic.
The Semien’s say the cemetery president attempted to rectify the problem by changing the by-laws. However, they say nothing can change the fact they were initially denied based on skin color.
“I even offered them, I can’t sell you one, but I can give you one of mine,” says Vizena. “That’s how strongly I feel about fixing it!”
Cemetery board members say they will try to make a decision by Thursday night to resolve this issue, according to the station.
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