Hundreds join motorcade to protest Detroit violence

Nicquel Terry
The Detroit News
A line of hearses roll down Grand River Ave in Detroit enroute to Martin Luther King Jr. High as community leaders and area funeral homes participate in a mock funeral procession during a "Thou Shall Not Kill Rally" event Sunday, May 22, 2016. Gary Malerba/Special To The Detroit New

Detroit— The 300 motorists who paraded through Detroit on Sunday had a message for the community: ‘Thou shall not kill.’

It’s one of the 10 biblical commandments participants in the motorcade say has gotten lost in the violence that continues to engulf the city.

“You’ve got kids killing kids, adults killing adults over dumb stuff,” said Derrick Austin, a supporter of United Communities of America, which sponsored the event.

In recent months, children have increasingly become victims of gun violence in Detroit. On Saturday night, a 15-year-old girl was shot while standing on a porch on the 3200 block of Hazelwood. Between March and April, a 6-month-old and a 3-year-old were fatally shot in the city, and a 4-year-old was injured in a shooting.

The city had at least seven other reported shootings, including the fatality of a 25-year-old man on the west side, over the weekend, police said.

Sunday’s motorcade included colorful Dodge Chargers and Challengers and motorcycles from local car clubs, some with signs that read “God said, thou shall not kill.” The motorcade started at the corner of Grand River and Livernois and drove to Martin Luther King High School, where a rally was held.

The Rev. Ovella Davis, founder of United Communities of America, said this was her second time hosting the motorcade here since 2012. She estimated that more than 300 people participated Sunday.

Rally organizer, Pastor Ovella Davis of Southfield is interviewed prior to the start of a mock funeral procession down Grand River Ave during a "Thou Shall Not Kill Rally" event in Detroit Sunday, May 22, 2016. Gary Malerba/Special To The Detroit News

The event was held in conjunction with “No Violence Day in Detroit,” which former Mayor Dave Bing announced in 2012 would be recognized on the 22nd of each month.

Davis said she wanted to use a biblical message to “infiltrate the community” in her effort to stop the violence.

“The momentum is contagious,” Davis said.

The motorcade also drew the support of several local funeral homes, whose directors say they are fed up with burying victims of gun violence.

Many of them placed their hearses in the motorcade.

The Rev. Curtis C. Williams, CEO of Trinity Chapel Funeral Homes, said he wants Detroit youth to stop thinking guns and knives will solve their problems with others.

“It’s about unity, peace, to help young people to realize that they can do other things than shoot and kill,” Williams said. “And that they need to learn a point of conflict resolution.”

CrimeStoppers of Michigan also offered its support during the event.

“I think people see this (motorcade) and they recognize that somebody feels the same way as they do,” said Anthony Jones, a spokesman for CrimeStoppers. “Children, women and babies are being murdered in this city and it’s enough.”