High-risk funerals

Opinion: Editorials

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Good to see attention being paid to the issue of the few but raucous funeral processions that pass through our villages causing disruption and seeding potential violence.

Last week, taking action, based on the efforts of Commissioner Richard Boykin, a gathering was held in Forest Park of county and local law enforcement and local funeral directors. It was a fruitful discussion that will be a foundation for a coming Cook County task force on the subject.

We were struck by the shared concerns of both parties over these gang-activated exhibitions of traffic weaving, loud shouting, and, occasionally, gunfire-accompanied processions. At the same time, there were interesting differences in how to describe these sporadic events and how to issue consequences.

In the conversation, law enforcement termed these events "rowdy processions." But a local funeral director took issue and said the language has made the conversation more difficult. Not that the funeral industry is sugar-coating the troubling events. They choose the term "high-risk funerals." 

Detective Sergeant Jason Moran of the county sheriff's office has been charged with working on this issue. He noted, "the first thing we said is we cannot criminalize funerals and wakes, so that is something that is very important." Politically correct, perhaps, as these rude and disrespectful funeral processions typically have a racial aspect to them. 

But criminal acts are criminal, beyond the stunning break with the norm of burying one's dead with reverence. A funeral director at the meeting said there needs to be added police presence and the possibility of legal consequences. "We don't want it to go too far, but we want to let them know this is serious," she said of seeking a more active response from police and the sheriff. "There's some decorum that's required here," she said.

A first conversation on a complex topic. Positive and informative to see the interested parties set out their thoughts.

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