Activists Seek New Law to Protect Families From Violence at Funerals

As Chicago’s violence continues to reach new levels, activists say a moment that was once off limits is now making vulnerable, grieving families targets.

In the past year, activists report more than 15 acts of violence at Chicago funerals, wakes or burials.

People have been shot and stabbed and leaders are calling for a new law they believe will send a strong message.

“Times have changed and there’s no respect for the living or the dead,” said Bishop Larry Trotter.

Among the recent reported acts of violence, two men were shot outside a South Side church, one of them fatally. Several months ago, six people were shot as they gathered at a memorial for a gunshot victim.

Some recent attacks have even happened inside funeral homes.

“A gentleman went up to the casket, somebody came up next to him, they thought he was the one that killed the person, so they stabbed him in the funeral home,” said June Williams with Golden Gate Funeral Home. “So of course then you have mass confusion.”

Pastors and activists want to see state lawmakers increase the penalties for violence at funerals, wakes and burials.

“We’ve had enough,” said Bishop Tavis Grant with Greater First Baptist Church. “Families need healing.”

As they see it, much like safe passage laws protecting school children, funeralgoers must also be unafraid.

“We have learned through safe passage that the persons who perpetrate these crimes, they know where and where not to perpetrate these crimes,” Grant said. “Families are entitled to an environment and a location that is safe and secure.”

The bill set to go before the Illinois General Assembly has not yet been finalized, but will be soon, the group said.

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