The murder rate in Newark, N.J., has risen dramatically. The city is considered one of the most dangerous in the country, despite Mayor Cory Booker’s oversight and crime reduction measures.
Violence among youth of color is particularly prevalent, with Newark being recently rated in the top 10 murder capitals.
While the violence appears to not be ceasing, community members and activists in the city are making a powerful statement: by holding a funeral to bury violence in the city.
There is also a strong spirit of activism in Newark. Many citizens are committed to finding ways of reducing violence and gang enrollment. Today’s mock funeral was well-attended, with a crowd that largely stuck around to hear an entire program of speakers. Speakers ranged from community activists to youth poets to rapper Rah Digga, who drew a comparison between local gangs and war criminals who wage war for profit, saying they are both the same.
The speakers stood behind a line of caskets provided by local morticians. When Rah Digga spoke, she pointed out that she had spent more time attending funerals in the last two years than her entire life. The caskets were left open, for the audience to see items symbolic to the violence experienced by members of the community.
Newark’s problem isn’t unique. Many cities in America, especially African American and Latino communities, are plagued by violence.
A mock funeral may not be much, but it’s a start to fostering conversation about and action against gun violence.
Thoughts on the funeral?
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