If you have a child who has died as a result of his or her membership in a gang, you may feel a lot of difficult emotions as you work on plans for the funeral. It's likely that many gang members will want to attend the service, and you may feel resistant about this idea because you blame the child's gang affiliation for his or her death. As you move forward through these uncharted waters, it's valuable to confer with your funeral director for guidance. The funeral home may have dealt with gang member funerals in the past, and your director can provide insight. Here are some tips that you can remember in this situation.
You Have The Right To A Private Funeral
Should you feel that the attendance of gang members at your child's funeral is simply too much, you can exclude them by organizing a private funeral. In this scenario, you and your family will come up with a list of people invited to attend the service. This list may be family members, people from the community, and friends, provided that they aren't active gang members. At the door of the funeral home, staff members will cross reference the list of invitees with those who arrive to ensure that no one gets in who isn't on the list.
Consider Involving Law Enforcement
Gang member funerals can sometimes be volatile environments. Rival gangs could use this opportunity to target gang members of your deceased child's gang, which can certainly overshadow the importance of your child's service, as well as be a safety threat to you and your family. It's a good idea to alert local law enforcement to the situation. Police departments will often station officers at the funeral home and the cemetery to provide a visible presence that will hopefully keep violence from taking place.
Set A Dress Code
If you decide that you're OK with gang members attending the funeral service, you might want to create some requirements. Gang members often attend funerals wearing their gang colors, and you might not appreciate this look at this solemn service. Pass word through friends of your child that there will be a dress code at the funeral — in other words, those who are wearing gang colors will not be allowed to attend. You may even think about hiring private security officers to enforce this dress code in the parking lot of the venue.