SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A local group claims they can prove that a proposed Salvation Army shelter in West Savannah would be built on Weeping Time property, the site of the largest slave auction in U.S. history.
In April, Savannah City Council approved a special use permit for the shelter on Augusta Avenue, that included an amendment for an archaeological survey. The city said it would not move forward with the permit if the study shows the shelter would be on Weeping Time land.
Members of the Weeping Time Coalition conducted an independent study involving maps, books and public records that they said proves the proposed shelter would be built on Weeping Time property.
“We’re not guessing. If Salvation Army is allowed this permit, they will be building on Weeping Time property,” Rev. Leonard Small said.
At a press conference on Friday, Rev. Small said he sent the group’s findings to the city council and the Salvation Army.
Major Paul Egan, of the Salvation Army, said the proposed shelter is near the Weeping Time land, but not on it.
“One of the best ways we can honor this horrific act is to provide safe, beautiful shelter and services to those who need it the most,” Major Egan said.
Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter said the city council’s archaeological review is a distraction.
“We are not going to be sidestepped or taken off track by these plants of trickery,” Alderwoman Gibson-Carter said. “It’s not just simply about Black and Brown people. This is a human dignity issue.”
The Weeping Time Coalition claimed the city was supposed to share the findings of the review during Thursday’s council meeting. When the special permit was passed in April, the city manager said the review would take two to four months.
Members of the Weeping Time Coalition said their study is about 90% completed and they plan to send the findings to the state as well.
“The circumstance before us is whether or not we will preserve our legacy,” Rev. Small said. “Not just for Africans and their progeny. But for humankind.”
WSAV News 3 contacted the city for comment about the timeline of its archaeological review but has not heard back yet.