Friday, July 10, 2009

How low can greed take you? At least 6 feet under...

After a week where the world watched the biggest funeral this millennium, and buried an African American legend, it is natural to think about the past. Not always were blacks given such a send off to the hereafter. In earlier times, even cemeteries were segregated, as is the case of Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, IL. Burr Oak was one of the few cemeteries in the region that would accept black "guests" and as such has several prominent black Americans buried there, most notably civil rights icon Emmit Till, whose 1955 racially motivated murder was a pivotal moment in the American civil rights movement.

After a week like this one, it is even more disturbing to read something like this...

" Every family's nightmare: Burr Oak Cemetery graves allegedly stripped for profit
R.I.P SHATTERED | Manager, three gravediggers charged in scheme"

Yep, you read it right. Recent investigations launched into the operation of the renown Burr Oak Cemetery have discovered that as least 100 bodies were removed from their graves and their plots resold. Bodies were discovered dismembered, piled in a field on cemetery property, sometimes casket and all. Other allegations include stuffing two bodies into one gravesite, essentially burying the more recently deceased over old graves. Here's some of the article.

(from the Chicago Sun Times) "The manager of Burr Oak Cemetery and three gravediggers were charged this morning, accused of scheming to dig up gravesites and resell them.

The four were expected to be in court this morning. The sheriff's office says caskets and remains were removed more than 100 graves and piled up in an unused area of the graveyard over several years.

The cemetery is the final resting place of civil rights icon, Emmit Till.
Other well-known people buried in Burr Oak include jazz legend Dinah Washington; bluesmen Willie Dixon and Otis Spann; Harlem Globetrotter Inman Jackson; and several Negro League baseball players.

Officers raided the cemetery, at 4400 W. 127th St, in Alsip, Wednesday morning. Five people were taken into custody.

Dart’s office was notified by the cemetery’s owners of “impropriety” about three weeks ago.

Dart believes the scheme has been going on for about four years.
“It was well thought out,” Dart said.

The employees apparently freelanced selling grave plots and dealt with cash.

“One person had an inordinate control of records, and a lot of those records have since been destroyed.

“We don’t know the full extent of this yet,” he said.,burr-oaks-cemetary-mitchell-070909.article

Another link to the story (more details and pics of the perps)

And they may never know. Records were destroyed, bodies and bones were piled in mass piles. The collection of DNA evidence may take months. All the while each of these families are forced to relive their loved ones passing as they try to find out what happened to their family members. Some families with up to 12 family members buried there were only able to locate a few of their gravesites.

It just never ceases to amaze me, 2 things about people. 1. What lows they will stoop for money, and small amounts of it too. I don't know about you, but if I'm digging up the dead and chopping remains, there better be at LEAST 2 commas in my pay check. And 2. how little people think of the consequences. I mean, you are only gonna be able to pile bodies and caskets in an empty field for so long before somebody notices. You can only TRY to focus on reselling graves that seem unvisited, at some point someone is gonna say, "Hey, I coulda sworn we buried Mom right by this tree." This plan was bound to fail, and though these guys had a good 4 year run at it, where is all your illegally gained money now and how will you spend it in prison? And even more tragic is that this outrage against these mostly African American graves was purported by African Americans. Seems black on black violence doesn't end at the funeral.

One of the most touching stories of distraught family members was a young woman whose brother recently came home from a box. Killed in the line of service to our country, buried at Burr Oak, his grave is now not able to be found. If we are going to ship our poor young men overseas to die, at least we hope they would rest in peace.

Luckily, reports suggest Emmit Till's grave to be undisturbed. But we won't know for months what damage has been done, and then begins the long slow process of reburying the dead.

I hope they bury Michael at Neverland, it may be the only safe place left.


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