The woman sitting next to me, Melanie Brown, had been to these before.
“When they close the casket, it’s usually the hardest part,” she whispered to me, as mourners paid their final respects to mother and son.
The body of 2-year-old Amani Smith lay in Eyanna Flonory’s arms, just as the police had found them a block away, on Woolson Street.
The undertakers closed the casket, and a sadness fell over the church. There was a portrait of a smiling Eyanna and the cutest little kid you ever saw.
“I lived on every street in this neighborhood,” Brown said, including Woolson. Her son went to school with Simba Martin, Flonory’s boyfriend, who was laid to rest Tuesday. Brown said it was her godson, 19-year-old Aaron Brown, who was shot to death last August at the Dorchester Y.
Brown can’t take any more violence. She wants the drugs and guns gone. “They don’t want to fix it.” Who is they, I ask? The government, politicians, she says.
Bishop John Borders blames a lot of people. Pastors, teachers, cops, reporters, absent fathers. He declared a “spiritual war” on evil.
“I’m going into a season of prayer. I’m asking God to change the spiritual climate in the City of Boston,” Borders preached, his voice rising. “God has had enough.” He pounded the lectern.
The most powerful words came next:
Our teachers have to teach lessons that are higher than MCAS. We can’t stop at MCAS. We have to go higher than MCAS. Our politicians have to end the lying, and they have to end the division. Our police have to return to neighborhood policing and end police brutality. The media has to stop recording all the bad things that happen in our neighborhood and learn to start recording the positive things that happen in our neighborhoods. And our fathers have to take their families back. Our men have to be men. Our mothers have to take the locks off the doors of their children. They have to go inside of their rooms and throw out everything that doesn’t belong there. And if you know where the guns are, and if you know where the drugs are, stop worrying about being a snitch. You have to report it. You’ve got to get the guns out of this community. And you’ve got to get the drugs out of this city. I’m stirred up! I’m not going to take it anymore!
Eyanna and Amani are murder victims No. 48 and 49 this year. Amani is by far the youngest on this list. And Borders wants the outrage of a 2-year-old’s death to wake up this city.
“God is going to use this death to turn us back to God.”