Headstones damaged at Providence cemetery; Family demands answers

A Rhode Island family wants answers after their relatives’ gravestones were damaged at a Providence cemetery. (WJAR)

A Rhode Island family wants answers after their relatives’ gravestones were damaged at a Providence cemetery.

“This is horrible,” said Lorraine Noriega. “The way it looks with all of the stones overturned, frankly, it’s an eyesore.”

Noriega’s grandparents and great grandparents are buried at Grace Church Cemetery near Broad Street and Elmwood Avenue in Providence.

The cemetery is associated with Grace Episcopal Church, which is also located in Providence.

University of Rhode Island records show plots in the cemetery date back to the 1800s.

“They were the people that built Providence,” Noriega said. “They’re no longer here. We owe them, at least, a decent resting place.”

Noriega said her relatives’ tombstones, along with hundreds of others, have been damaged.

Some have toppled over, been overturned, or even broken.

“There was a stone that was shattered,” said Lillianna Natal. “It was made out of glass. It was shattered everywhere.”

There are signs posted outside the cemetery gates warning visitors to respect the area, but Noriega’s family said people seem to be doing the opposite.

“How do people want to come and visit their loved ones if they can’t even find them?” said Doris Natal.

NBC 10 News reached out to Grace Episcopal Church for comment Wednesday, but did not hear back. Requests made to the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island were also not returned as of Wednesday evening.

A spokesperson for the City of Providence told NBC 10 the city is not aware of any recent vandalism at Grace Church Cemetery.

Now, Noriega is hoping someone steps up and helps clean up before the damage gets any worse.

“People look in here and say, ‘What’s going on here? Rhode Island can’t take care of their dead?’” Noriega said. “It needs to be fixed. It needs to be presentable. Somebody has to be held responsible.”

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