Police: Salisbury cemetery vandalism could be months old

Published 9:39 am Thursday, February 3, 2022

SALISBURY — Police say “a substantial amount of time” passed between an incident of vandalism at a historic Black cemetery in Salisbury and its discovery on Wednesday.

Dixonville-Lincoln Memorial Task Force Chair Emily Perry and city communications staff discovered 16 toppled or broken gravestones Wednesday when they drove to Dixonville Cemetery to film videos for Black History Month.

But the responding Salisbury Police officer wrote in his report grass started to grow around the toppled headstones. Some of the headstones also had sunken slightly into the ground.

Sgt. Russ DeSantis of the Salisbury Police Department said the incident could have occurred as long ago as October — when city staff were last at the cemetery. DeSantis said the scene a responding police officer found indicated “a substantial amount of time since they had been toppled.”

DeSantis said gravestones most likely were pushed over because of the type of damage found.

He said it’s unlikely there are any cameras nearby that captured the vandalism.

One of the city’s oldest Black cemeteries, Dixonville Cemetery was deeded to the city of Salisbury in 1874. There are more than 500 documented burials that have occurred at the Dixonville site since 1914. However, many took place prior to the practice of official record-keeping and are unmarked. The oldest existing headstone in Dixonville Cemetery dates to 1851.

For more information about the cemetery and to give a donation, visit dixonvillememorial.com.