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About those funerals

Opinion: Editorials

October 9th, 2018 11:13 AM

By Editorial

Our Views

There's hardly a faster way these days to drive digital or social media traffic than by posting a video and story about what we, somewhat colloquially, refer to as "rowdy funerals."

The Journal covered an early September funeral traveling through Oak Park along Jackson Boulevard that devolved into a melee with perhaps 30 mourners kicking and screaming on front lawns. The video captured by a neighbor received more than 10,000 views on OakPark.com.

Clearly this is a topic that resonates and for a range of interesting reasons. Every person has some experience with a funeral procession. It is a cultural marker that most of us identify as one of sobriety. It is a milestone in life as we bring a person we loved, or at least had a strong connection to, collectively to their burial, their rest.

But there are variations on the white Christian theme. A funeral in New Orleans is more of a parade than a procession with music and weaving and celebration. Native American and some Latin rituals at death are out of what many perceive as a norm.

So when, in a minority of cases unusually involving the deaths of young African Americans, the procession becomes rowdy and dangerous to participants and those nearby, do we need to defer to cultural sensitivity or is it right to say enough and to expect law enforcement to intervene?

We celebrate diversity but we come down on the side of "enough."

Under the auspices of Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, a county task force — The Cook County Funeral and Cemetery Violence Task Force — has been formed and, in fact, had its first meeting on Sept. 28. This is an interesting group that the county has assembled. Among those at the table are the county sheriff's office, the state's attorney's office, police from Chicago and Forest Park (where's Oak Park?), West Side funeral home owners and cemetery owners. 

Our reporting on the initial meeting tells us that those involved believe they have identified an actual problem and that any solutions are likely complex. The group will meet again in late October. This is a good start.