OBERLIN, La. (NEXSTAR) – The board of a Louisiana cemetery that denied burial to a Black sheriff’s deputy held an emergency meeting Thursday to remove a whites-only provision from its sales contracts.
Board President H. Creig Vizena said he was stunned and ashamed to learn that the family of Allen Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Semien, who died Sunday, had been told that he could not be buried at the Oaklin Springs Cemetery near Oberlin in southwest Louisiana because he was Black.
Widow Karla Semien told KPLC she recalled the moment she learned of the rule while meeting with the cemetery.
“It was in their by-laws that the cemetery was ‘whites only,'” Semien said. “I just kind of looked at her and she said, ‘There’s no coloreds allowed.'”
“Just blatantly, with no remorse, I can’t sell you a plot for your husband,” said Kimberly Curly, Semien’s daughter.
Vizena says the offensive wording was in a sales contract that has been used since the cemetery was created in the late 1950s.
“My dad wasn’t any man, he was a phenomenal man,” Derrell Semien’s daughter Shayla Semien told KATC. “He was a police officer in this same community for 15 years. He was denied a place to lay because of the color of his skin.”
Deputy Semien passed away on Sunday. He served in the Transport Division at Allen Parish Sheriff’s Office as well as a patrolmen for Reeves Police Department.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.