Hmong families upset after photos surfaced online showing displaced headstones at cemetery

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Mountain View Cemetery mourners are more sorrowful than usual.

Sia Yang is trying to ease her sister's spirit after the sacred ground near her gravesite was disturbed.

"I hurt too, I sad too, really sad," said Yang.

It is not just her family. A wave of hysteria swept through the Hmong community after someone shared pictures of dug up headstones on social media.

"All the Hmong people they see it, they mad because, in our culture, you can't move at all," said Herr.

Herr explained that in his culture a ritual has to be performed whenever a headstone is removed, otherwise the deceased and their families will suffer.

Cemetery Manager Randy Giovannoni took responsibility for that pain.

"Unfortunately the whole community got this message that we're doing bad things and I felt terrible about it, but the genie was out of the bottle and I didn't have a chance to talk to anybody to explain," said Giovannoni.

He said five headstones were removed briefly Monday so a burial could take place. As soon as a backhoe finished preparing the grave the headstones were returned to their proper place.

He now knows, he should have called families ahead of time.

"I've changed the policy obviously. We respect our Hmong families very much and I want them to know this is not something I did to hurt them," said Giovannoni.

Herr says he accepts the cemetery's apology. His family has already held a spiritual ceremony to guide the spirits of the deceased so that they can continue to rest in peace.
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