“I am burying a lot of Black people” Funeral home billboard calls for end to black-on-black violence
A funeral director in Columbus, Ohio, was frustrated by the spike in violent deaths, so he took out a billboard calling on Black people to stop killing each other.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Marlan J. Gary Funeral bought two large billboards that read: “Black Lives SHOULD Matter, Especially to BLACK PEOPLE. STOP THE VIOLENCE. We don’t want your business That bad.”
“I am burying a lot of Black people”
Marlan J. Gary said that he took out the billboards to express his frustration with the number of deaths he was seeing. Last year, Columbus saw a record 143 killings, and 111 were Black. The median age was only 29.
And already, 2018 has seen nine people killed, eight of whom are African-American. And for Gary, enough was enough.
Even though a great deal of the murders were unsolved, Gary said that he felt sure that these young Black men were being killed by other young Black men. And he felt like he could no longer stay silent on the matter of black-on-black crime.
” … The bottom line is that I don’t bury a whole lot of people who were killed by police,” Gary said. “Right now, I am burying a lot of Black people who are killed at the hands of Black people.”
“I realize that [Black lives] have to matter to us before it matters to anybody else,” he added.
Gary says the response to the billboards message about black-on-black crime has been fairly positive, and he’s been encouraged by the conversations they have started in the community. He hopes that the Columbus, Ohio would eventually be able to break a different record: this time, he wants a record low number of homicides.
“I just thought it would be great if we could try to beat that record,” he said. “It would be nice if we could just move back toward the record low.”