Across the U.S. black morticians are changing the way they operate because of a spike in African-American murders and the violence that sometimes follows victims to the grave, the Wall Street Journal Reports. African-American morticians report seeing an increase in violent behavior, and occasional killings, at funerals. The violation of the once-sacrosanct funeral is one byproduct of an upswing in the murder rate of African-Americans. The number of blacks killed in America, mostly by other blacks, has been edging up at a time when the rate for other groups has been flat or falling.
The black murder-victim toll exceeds that of the far larger white population. According to the most recent FBI data, the number of whites murdered dropped slightly, to 6,956 from 7,005 between 2004 and 2006. The number of blacks killed rose 11 percent, to 7,421 from 6,680. African-Americans, who make up 13 percent of the population, have long had a higher homicide rate than other groups. The total number of black murders is still much lower than in the early 1990s, when the U.S. was hit by a wave of drug-related killings. Since 2006, police in Boston, Goldsboro, N.C., Louisville, Los Angeles, and St. Louis have investigated black murders that occurred at or immediately after funeral services. Of five cases reviewed for this article, four were at the funerals of other murder victims. Two were gang related. One was a revenge killing. Two remain unexplained.