Cleanup at San Benito cemetery raises concerns

7 months 1 week 6 days ago Thursday, October 20 2022 Oct 20, 2022 October 20, 2022 9:57 PM October 20, 2022 in News - Local

Families in San Benito have raised concerns after flowers, lights and other decorations were taken from their loved one's grave site at the Freddy Fender Memorial Cemetery.

“This is super disrespectful." San Benito resident Jackie Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said she’s had her daughter —Ariel—buried at the cemetery for four months. Gonzalez decorates Ariel’s grave every month, but said this is the first time she's seen it empty.

“I take the time out of my day to do it, and they just come and take everything and put it in the trash bag,” Gonzalez said. That's a huge disrespect to everybody."

Gonzalez reached out to the city of San Benito, who told her items placed on graves are picked up due to a city ordinance.

"In order to maintain the integrity of the cemetery for those who want to visit their loved ones here, we clean up the items after a certain time,” San Benito public relations Director David Favila said.

Under the ordinance, potted plants, floral pieces, decorations and all other objects are only allowed to be placed on graves for "certain occasions" such as holidays and birthdays.

After 12 days, the city can remove the items. 

The items picked up from grave sites are placed in trash bags at the cemetery, and anyone who had something removed from a gravesite can pick it up upon request.

City officials said the removal of the items after a certain time period is in the contract given to families to sign. They also families by letter about when they will remove the items. 

“We do not mean to be disrespectful," Favila said, adding that the cleanup happens at least twice a year. “Sometimes the wind will blow them, and then we get complaints that the cemetery is messy and unkept."

San Benito resident Angela Trejo said her son is also buried at the cemetery. She says she would not have had her son buried here if she knew about the ordinance.

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