Can We Please Stop Using the Term “Mass Graves?” Hart Island’s is a Mission of Mercy

Questionable terminology as the world learns about Hart Island

Aerial view of Hart Island. Photo: Erlend Bjørtvedt (CC-BY-SA)

Grim Realities

The reality of how Hart Island burials are conducted may seem unusually practical. The island is maintained by the Department of Corrections, and is not open to the public. The work is done by inmates of Riker’s Island. The plain pine boxes are stacked three high, two across. “Each plot can hold 150 adult coffins or 1,000 infant coffins,” and “approximately 100 disinterments are done each year.”

Drones and Hysteria

The rumors and hysteria over “mass graves” have been circulating for at least a week. It got worse when Council member Mark D. Levine tweeted that New York would be burying bodies in “a NYC park,” which was quickly corrected by Freddi Goldstein:



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Bradley Spinelli

Books: Killing Williamsburg, The Painted Gun. FIlm: #AnnieHall. Words: Bedford+Bowery.