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'I would much rather bury little old ladies': Funeral directors pushing for end to Baltimore violence

Posted at 7:02 PM, Aug 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-25 19:02:10-04

BALTIMORE — When John Williams looks at homicide rates in Baltimore, he doesn't see numbers, he sees faces.

"I don't think you understand what it's like to see the pain on somebody's face as they have to choose what color casket they're gonna get, to choose what outfit they're gonna wear. I've heard screams that would pierce your soul," Williams, funeral director, said.

So when he sees homicide numbers going down this year, even by a few dozen, he knows that's a few dozen fewer families entering his funeral home.

"I would much rather bury little old ladies, World War II veterans, and just lay them peacefully to rest, as opposed to hearing mothers cry," Williams said.

That's why he didn't hesitate when a friend in the funeral industry asked him to get behind his idea.

Corey Larkins organizes a "Ride for Peace" every year.

A caravan of hearses processes through the streets of West Baltimore, joined by local clergymen, and members of the police department.

The message is simple.

"If you don't stop, you're gonna end up in the back of a hearse," Larkins said. "If I can get to one person, that'll make me feel better. I just want it to stop."

"As a kid, you have the chance to choose life or you can choose death. Unfortunately, a lot of kids in our community have the tendency to choose death. So hopefully, they see the hearses and realize the finality of death," Williams said.

The pair believes their neighbors are desensitized to the violence around them. They hope the image of a funeral procession provides a dose of harsh reality.

"I have a routine, I get on Instagram, or I get on Facebook, and I know what I'm gonna see: This person shot multiple times last night, this person stabbed last night," Larkins said.

"It's not normal for somebody to be murdered at 18, 19, 22-years-old," Williams said.

You can watch the procession in the video above.