Restaurant: Moving slave auction block will hurt business

December 20, 2019 GMT

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A restaurant is suing to stop the removal of a slave auction block from a street corner in Virginia because the eatery fears it will see a decline in tourists.

The Freelance-Star reported Thursday that the weathered stone is colloquially known as the “slave auction block” in a historic section of Fredericksburg.

It’s long been a source of controversy. Fredericksburg’s city council has ordered the 176-year-old block to be moved to the Fredericksburg Area Museum.

Two businesses are now fighting against the planned removal. They are the owner of a commercial building across the street and the owner of the Olde Towne Butcher shop and The Butcher’s Table restaurant.

The suit predicts a decline in foot traffic and tourist visits. The suit also says the city lacks the authority to remove the block. It said only the Architectural Review Board can do that.

The legal petition also points out that the block is listed as a landmark in a historic district and a point of interest on a tourist map.

City officials said they would “vigorously” defend their plan to move the auction block. The local branch of the NAACP said the business owners are trying “to profit from the vestiges of slavery.”