• Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

A caravan of police led funeral hearses leave Avondale Saturday to wind through inner city neighborhoods in a campaign to stop the violence. Photo by Dan Yount

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

A strange caravan of funeral hearses wound their way through inner city neighborhoods Saturday afternoon with a critical message to those involved in violence in those communities: Ride for Peace – “Live Instead of Rest in Peace.”

Ennis Tait Ministries (Project Ceasefire), Mitch Morris (Cincinnati Works Outreach Team), J.C. Battle Funeral Home, Patti Hogan (Price Hill), Cincinnati Police Department and multiple funeral homes hosted the Ride for Peace – “Live Instead of Rest in Peace” caravan, starting at Rockdale Circle and winding through a number of neighborhoods.

From left, funeral directors Edward McCall of McCall Funeral Home, Paul Young IV and Paul Young III of Neidhard-Young Funeral Home, and Preston Charles, of Preston Charles Funeral Home participated in the caravan. Photo by Dan Yount

“This event is being hosted in and by a community that is committed to confronting, so their community will become a safer place to live,’ said Pastor Ennis F. Tait, leader of Ennis Tait Ministries’ Project Ceasefire, one of the organizers. “The processional was designed to make a powerful statement to the community in promoting peace and non-violence throughout the city.”

The ride featured a funeral-like procession led by police escort, 13 funeral hearses and a combination of cars. Each vehicle bore a funeral flag like the final ride that most victims of gun violence take to reach their final resting place.

“Our prayer is that God will release a spirit of love and peace into each neighborhood that we touch,’’ Tait said. “Additionally, we hope this procession will make a huge impact on our youth. We need to put an end to the endless funeral processions that families have had to ride in due to senseless violence. We want to lay these senseless homicides to rest.”

Thirteen funeral homes in Cincinnati participated in the Ride for Peace caravan. Photo by Dan Yount

There have been over 40 funeral processions for victims of gun violence in Cincinnati this year, according to police records. The estimated funeral cost to families of the victims is $250,000, funeral directors estimate.

The procession moved through Corryville, Mt. Auburn, Over the Rhine, West End, Walnut Hills and Bond Hill neighborhoods and returned to Avondale at 3:45 p.m.

J.C. Battle, of J.C. Battle & Sons Funeral Home in Avondale, who participated in the caravan, said, “Our family is pained by the loss of so many young, Black men in our community. We challenge our community in doing everything we can to stop this Black-on-Black crime. We serve the families of these young men, so it is not easy for us either. We live in a community where we see progress and development all around us, but in the midst of this, we see violence and death. Instead, we want them to live long, productive lives.’’

J.C. Battle, of J.C. Battle & Sons Funeral Home speaks to a reporter prior to the Ride for Peace. Photo by Dan Yount

City Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, who chairs the city’s law and public safety committee, also joined the ride. He said, “We own this problem. We have got to take our message to the people in the streets.’’