Funeral directors protest Detroit violence

Detroit had 344 murders last year, and already there have been 27 homicides in January.

CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller reports that some funeral directors fed-up with the violence have taken to the streets to protest.

"By and large it's the younger people that's dying, that's killing each other," says O'Neil Swanson, whose family has buried Detroit's residents for 54 years.

These days, business is booming, for all the wrong reasons.

"You think about the potential these youngsters had, just taken away, taken away," Swanson says.

Last Sunday, dozens of Detroit's undertakers drove a motorcade of hearses through the city's most violent neighborhoods, bearing a simple message from the Bible.

"These are funeral directors and you'd think they'd want death calls and everything. They're sick of it. They don't want it. They don't want business that way," Swanson says.

Elaine Reebus saw the hearses in downtown Detroit as she was making funeral arrangements for her son-in-law, 36-year-old Derrius Kendricks, a married father of five, shot and killed in front of his two sons, when he tried to break up a fight.

"Do you know what I felt? I felt pride because a funeral director is coming together with his fellow funeral directors and saying enough is enough," Reebus said.

Swanson said that was the point of the protest.

"We want to send a message to youngsters that we're concerned that someone cares because all too often they're not getting that at home. If we had more jobs, I think you'd see a difference throughout America if there were more jobs," Swanson says.

O'Neil Swanson holds out hope that one day, he'll be the one business owner in America relieved to have fewer clients.

  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.