Mass Burial of Jihad Victims a Challenge for Orlando Cemeteries

A woman cries at a vigil in Orlando, Florida, June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Washington D.C.

The Orlando cemeteries preparing to receive the bodies of those killed in Pulse nightclub Sunday night are struggling with both the high number of bodies they are receiving and with assuring privacy for the families of those killed.

There is usually a $1,500 fee for a plot in the cemetery, along with another fee regarding burials which costs $850, the Orlando Sentinel reports. The city of Orlando has waived the fees under such extraordinary circumstances. Florists and limousine companies are also pitching in with the effort, sending flowers as well as making limousines for families available for services with no charge.

As all of these entities are doing everything in their power to ease this painful process for families, there may be issues with the actual services. The services may be overwhelmed with people that did not have a direct connection with the victims but feel associated with the cause.

Don Price of Greenwood Cemetery Sexton told the publication, “We don’t know how many cars to expect, how many non-family members are going to show up because they feel somehow tied to this.”

In attempts to give families some privacy during services, cemetery workers plan to park their utility vans in line with a chain link fence, along with a black fence that will mount American and rainbow flags. “I don’t want the families to feel like they’re in a fishbowl,” Price stated.

Concerned with the probable outpour of people who did not actually know the victims, Price goes on to express concern over “whether there will be protesters or room enough for those people who want to pay respects.” Authorities organizing the burials are especially concerned about extremist groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, who have protested the victims of mass murders in the past. It is also possible jihadist operators may make a target out of the burials, as the dead are the victims of an Islamic State-affiliated jihadi.

The magnitude of the terrorist attack has also come to affect some gravediggers, who typically do their work outside of the scope of media events. “I prefer not to know a lot about who I bury,” gravedigger Owl Goingback told the Sentinel. “It’s a lot easier that way,” he added.