The Freedmen Town Preservation Coalition (FTPC) showed how serious they are about protecting the historical bricks of Fourth Ward today as they firmly stood on the bricks, unmoved, forcing Conrad construction crew to stop removing the bricks.
On Wilson St, in Fourth Ward construction crews hand removed bricks for what was a demonstration of what will be. They dug up the bricks and stacked them on top of each other before the FTPC and concerned community members began to show unrest about the demonstration.
“This is just a trial,” said Alvin Wright, Public Information Officer for the City of Houston. “We are hand picking them up and taking them to a center to have them cleaned and to see if we are doing the process properly.”
The continuous fight over preservation and restoration has been continuous since June when Mayor Parker announced she would restore the streets in Freedmen’s Town/Fourth Ward after doing infrastructure to update utilities. The issue came in when community members realized the hundred year old historical bricks would be disturbed in the process.
For months the FTPC along with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee championing for them on the federal side have visited City Hall petitioning for a recall of the restoration project while holding press conferences, teach-in and walk throughs of the streets for people to learn history in order to appreciate their effort and join in.
Many entities are involved such as the Texas Historical Commission and TXDot. TXDot is working with the FTPC now to see if disturbing the bricks as is, is illegal due to the historical significance.
Congresswoman Lee said she wanted TXDot and the US Department of Transportation notified so they may begin a thorough investigation as federal money is involved.
The lack of communication between the City of Houston, the FTPC, TXDot and other powers that be led to the misunderstanding of when to touch the bricks and where. Today they all discovered that it will not be an easy task to take up the bricks and the FTPC showed constant displeasure in the process of taking up the bricks.
“They took them up without labeling them, how are they supposed to know where to put them back,” said Lue Williams of the FTPC?
After a three hour stand off the bricks that were taken up were replaced in the street. President of the FTPC, Dorris Ellis Robinson, laid down in the trench where the bricks were removed after she led the protestors in the song, We Shall Not Be Moved.
The bricks were replaced and they remain for another day. The Congresswoman has requested another meeting with the City for January as she spoke with the city liaison for Mayor Parker, Keith Wade.