Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Statement on USF's latest effort to dig up bodies at Dozier School - July 31, 2013

If the University of South Florida wishes to dig up the graves at the Dozier School Cemetery, it should first contact the next of kin of those known to be buried there to obtain their permission and to obtain DNA for use in identifying the bodies.

USF has stated in its administrative and legal filings that it does not consider Dozier School Cemetery to be a crime scene and does not expect any crimes to be solved by exhuming the graves.

As of today, USF has located only 7 of the families with next of kin buried in the cemetery.  Why only 7?  USF itself has provided the names of more than 50 people logically believed to be buried in the cemetery.  Why is it so determined not to contact the families of the African American, Latino and other individuals buried in the cemetery?  If it does not locate and contact those families to obtain DNA for comparison, USF will relegate the individuals of color known to be buried at Dozier School to second class status for all eternity.  That is wrong and smells of racism.

In short, USF should be honest and honorable and let the families - ALL of the families, of ALL races - decide what should be done with the graves of their loved ones.

If all of the families are contacted, approve of the exhumations and are given a chance to provide DNA so their loved ones can be identified, then I have no issues with the project.  If USF does not do that, however, then the university should not be allowed to conduct this "science project" over the denials of a circuit judge, the state archaeologist and the Secretary of State.

Dale Cox
July 31, 2013

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