Trash, dirt found covering gravestones in Cranston cemetery

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Cranston Public Works crews were hard at work Wednesday morning removing trash and dirt piles from Oakland Cemetery.

On Memorial Day, a woman named Elaine went to visit her father at the cemetery, who’s a World War II veteran. But when she got to his gravesite, she found his tombstone, as well as several others, were covered in piles of trash and debris.

She described what she saw as “horrifying.”

Elaine was there Wednesday as bags of trash, mattresses, TVs and other items were hauled away.

12 News reached out to Mayor Ken Hopkins for comment Tuesday evening regarding the trash piles.

A spokesperson for Hopkins told 12 News that, while the cemetery is privately owned, they would do what they could to rectify the problem.

On Wednesday, Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins said the amount of debris littering the cemetery was “disgusting.”

“He’s a World War II war veteran, he was killed in action,” Hopkins said of Elaine’s father. “Here we have people dumping trash on top of his grave. That’s so disrespectful, and we’re going to do something about it.”

This is not the first time 12 News has reported on troubles at the cemetery, which is located on Broad Street. For years, viewers have expressed concerns regarding the cemetery’s condition.

Cecilia Arias said she’s constantly cleaning up her mother’s gravesite.

“It’s a total disgrace,” Arias said. “A shameful thing for these graves.”

Betty Jackson is actively trying to have her family members moved to another cemetery.

“The grass is not cut, there’s trash, it’s terrible,” Jackson said. “You know, we paid money to have our friends and families laid [to rest] in peace, that’s in an environment that’s not like this.”

After learning the owner of the property did not have enough money to maintain it, a number of volunteers stepped up and “adopted” certain sections of the cemetery.

But Hopkins argues the cemetery’s owner does have the money to clean it but, “right now, it’s in the courts.”

In the meantime, Hopkins said the city is going to ensure this doesn’t happen again and he plans to hold the owner accountable.

12 News reached out to the owner of the cemetery but has yet to hear back.