Grieving mom says Dadeville cemetery racially segregated

DADEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - A grieving mother accused the city of Dadeville of racial discrimination in the operation of its city-owned cemetery during a city council meeting Tuesday night.

Diann Tippins said she was told there were no plots available in the so-called "white side" of the cemetery, and was pushed to the so-called "black side," which she claims is not as well-maintained.

The city, in letters to Tippins' attorney, "emphatically" denied the allegations.

"It was so disheartening to me, because this is my place and that's where I wanted him to be," Tippins said.

19 month old Ian Tippins died in a drowning in Millbrook on Memorial Day.  His mother wanted him buried in Dadeville, where the family has strong ties.

"I walked the entire cemetery to this particular spot here," Tippins said.  "And she continued to want to find a spot on that side."

Mayor Mike Ingram told WSFA 12 News the city has offered to meet with Tippins and her attorneys to settle the issue.  Citing the advice of the city attorney, he declined to comment further.

In a letter obtained by WSFA 12 News, the city attorney responded to the allegations:

"Mayor Mike Ingram and the City of Dadeville emphatically state the city does not engage in discriminatory practices of identifying and selling plots of the cemetery or discriminatory maintenance of various areas of the cemetery," wrote Robin Reynolds, in a letter to Tippins' attorney, Hank Sanders.

Tippins is considering filing a lawsuit, and is pushing to change the way the city operates the cemetery.

"Anyone who has to go through the process of laying their loved one to rest can receive better services than what I did, that there will not be any segregation in this cemetery," Tippins said.  "And that they would have the freedom to choose whatever area they would like."

Tippins ended up purchasing a cemetery plot for her son in Alexander City.  She said she was eventually told her preferred plot in Dadeville was available, but she said it came too late in the process.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.