Funeral Directors Fight Gang Violence

by P-Francone

Sixteen funeral directors participated in the "Thou shall not kill" motorcade on January 22, 2012.

The city of Detroit is the center of gun violence in the northern United States, with the highest homicide rate north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Mississippi. A record 6.36 murders per 100,000 people was recorded in Michigan in 2004, more than double the rate of homicide in Washington State, Connecticut or Massachusetts. The vast majority of Michigan’s deaths are carried out with guns, 71.5 percent of that state’s murders were carried out with this weapon, the state is sixth in the United States for gun violence. The U.S. Department of Justice claims that a teenager in the United states is more likely to die of a gunshot wound than from all other natural causes of death combined.

Funeral Directors are on the front line of care when these people are gunned down, and see daily the impact that gun violence has on people in the state. Funeral Directors in Metro Detroit have finally decided that enough is enough, and they are calling for less business, but better communities. On January 22, 2012, two dozen Funeral Directors in hearses from across the city banded together for the Thou Shall Not Kill Motorcade, which wound through the city to promote their message. They travelled through several crime-ridden neighborhoods before stopping at the Fellowship Chapel for a peace rally.

Approximately 16 different Funeral Homes participated in the event, along with families affected by crime, community leaders, elected officials and the local automotive union. In announcing plans for the motorcade, United Communities of America spokesman Thamar Johnson told the Detroit Free Press that the hearses are  ”a powerful visual sign that the killing is taking place and it’s real.”

“The city is hurting and we need to show with this motorcade that we care,” Johnson said before the event. Detroit had 344 homicides last year, compared with 308 in 2010.

“We want this to stop. We want to have a powerful, visual sign that the killing is taking place and it’s real,” Johnson said. “It’s something we can’t deny. We need to change the consciousness of the youth and the next generation in our city. We believe some healing will take place.”

The procession was led by O’Neil D. Swanson of the Swanson Funeral Home, along with Detroit NAACP’s Reverend Wendell Anthony. Swanson told the Detroit News, “Enough is enough, we want to send a message, especially to our young people who are creating the havoc, that it is unholy and ungodly.”

Read more:

Thou Shall Not Kill Motorcade | Detroit Free Press

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