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Page 1 News & Morning in America
Nov. 27. 2001

In Little Rock, a historically important freight depot built by former slaves and located on the grounds where Bill Clinton plans to build his presidential library, has been demolished.

Local preservationist Gregory Ferguson said the building's demolition was done in an "underhanded" and "reprehensible" manner.

CNS News reports that Mr. Ferguson was at the federal courthouse in Little Rock, filing a legal challenge to the demolition of the freight depot last Wednesday, when a city representative informed the court that the building had just been destroyed.

He said "We had a hearing set for 1:45 PM, but by that time a witness for the city who was onsite testified that the Choctaw Freight Depot was essentially destroyed. While I was in the process of filling out my [legal challenge], the demolition contractor's huge front-end loader machines were tearing out the heart of the Choctaw Freight Depot."

The freight depot was built at the end of the 19th century by former African-American slaves. The structure is a showpiece for at least two African-American stone and brick craft skills.

Mr. Clinton said the depot was "of no use to anybody."

African-American preservationist Susan Branch said Mr.Clinton must have been "misinformed," and she called the demolition a "disgrace."

Skip Rutherford, the president of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library Foundation, apologized earlier this month for the planned demolition. He said "I am just sorry".

He acknowledged that the depot's demolition could cause controversy in the African-American community, but he defended Mr. Clinton's record with regard to African Americans.

Mr. Ferguson said the demolition crew "went directly for the historic part of the structure and didn't bother with the surrounding part first. I was witness to some of the most underhanded, reprehensible, dirty, and immoral conduct I have ever had the misfortune to observe."

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