For several years, serious safety concerns have arisen during funeral processions at Mt. Hope Cemetery, 11500 S. Fairfield Ave.
Nearby residents have complained of vehicles weaving in and out of traffic and passengers hanging from windows flashing guns and gang signs.
On Sept. 30, a shooting was reported outside the cemetery, as a traffic dispute led to a person from one vehicle firing shots at another. One man was shot and injured, and another person was hurt by flying glass.
In 2018, police said, several guns were seized from a party bus leaving a funeral at the cemetery.
Traffic congestion has also been a problem, and in 2013 a second entrance was added its southern boundary on 119th Street. That entry is not as appealing as the 115th Street entrance is, so it’s understandable that some families would feel disrespected by being forced to use that entrance.
Also in 2013, the Chicago City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that authorized the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to impound vehicles driven recklessly in funeral processions.
Loved ones deserve to mourn in peace and be treated with dignity. However, the problems at Mt. Hope have gone on for too long, and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea said he wants the cemetery, which is in unincorporated Cook County, to be annexed to Chicago.
A law enforcement group that includes the CPD, Cook County Sheriff’s Department and police departments in surrounding suburbs has helped in supervising processions entering the cemetery.
O’Shea said cemetery owners previously used professional security and traffic management, but handling traffic outside the cemetery has waned.
Mt. Hope official Scott Troost said cemetery officials “are committed, as always, to working with our private security team and, when appropriate, other law enforcement to maintain the safety and comfort of the mourners who entrust us with their loved ones’ burials, the visitors who come to pay their respects to the generations of Chicagoans memorialized here and of our own staff and the surrounding community.
“If additional operational changes are needed to help the city better manage traffic on 115th Street, we are willing partners in that effort.”
That’s a good answer because residents and families in mourning shouldn’t need to worry about their safety when a procession nears that cemetery.
It’s time for another serious attempt to fix problems at Mt. Hope.