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Hundreds march in solemn ‘Casket Crusade’ through downtown Cleveland

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CLEVELAND--"No more killing, no more violence." That was the message as hundreds of people gathered in downtown Cleveland Saturday as part of a local church's efforts to raise awareness about loss.

The Word Church's "Casket Crusade" started at East Tech High School and ended at Public Square, where a church service commenced.

The group of hundreds carried caskets as a powerful symbol, as they recognized people who die from incidents like drug overdoses or gun violence.

Organizers tell Fox 8 it's important to bring to light the pain and suffering many in the community are facing. The casket stirs emotions.

"Many people have expressed just the how they felt, the pit of their stomach when they saw the casket go by although they are empty it's just the message that they send," said Celia Lacey, an Elder at The Word Church.

The march was led by Cleveland's Mayor, Frank Jackson.

"We're saying we remember you lost a loved one we care and as much as we can do something we can do it we are the church and we are here," said Danyell Doggans, an elder at The Word Church.

For many at Saturday's event, there is pain, sadness, and unanswered questions.

"We were raising awareness of the gun violence and drug overdose individuals in the community have been lost unexpectedly, early, too soon," Doggans said.

"Today is about love, it's about giving."

Organizers said they chose wisely when ending the event at Public Square Saturday. They said it's the heart of Downtown Cleveland.

"The reality of it is something hit me I guess it's metaphorical, that if we could have this in the heart of the city, maybe we could change the heart of the city," said Dr. R.A. Vernon, Senior Pastor at The Word Church.

The event also provided a space for the Anderson family, of Cleveland.

"We just want justice, we want peace."

Just weeks ago, two young boys lost their father, Juantez Anderson.

"He was shot and killed on East 93rd and Marah back on July 9th," said Lawuana Anderson, his sister.

"He was a working man, he was a husband, a father, a son, a brother. He didn't deserve this."

There have been no arrests in Anderson's death, but the family was grateful to attend The Word Church event Saturday.

"This is a movement, I feel like this is the first step to help our community do better things," Anderson added.

Saturday's event included a free dinner, counselors on hand to help people, and also resources for job attainment.