By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – The atmosphere at the Oct. 4 City Council meeting was tense following heated discussion over the denial of the use of a large church for a slain Ecorse teen’s funeral.
Police officials initially indicated that they could not provide adequate police support for the expected large funeral turnout at Faith Christian Assembly in Melvindale because the funeral coincided with Melvindale High School Homecoming events.
The family was able to find a church in Ecorse at which to hold funeral services.
Ecorse High School senior Dennell Kemp Jr. was shot Sept. 18 while sitting in a car near the intersection of Outer Drive and Fort Street in Detroit. The three-sport athlete was not involved in gang activity.
However, an official of the proposed Melvindale church funeral venue, a retired law enforcement official, was concerned that police security would be needed for the large gathering, especially in light of the teen’s violent death.
Mayor Wheeler Marsee said he was merely informed of Police Chief Dan Jone’s decision, and did not attempt to influence his choice in any way.
Jones, who was quiet for most of the meeting, went to the podium later and expressed his sympathy to the family of the slain youth for the additional stress they experienced while trying to plan the funeral of their young son.
Local political activists Hassan Aoune and Stephanie Butler, neither of whom live in Melvindale, spoke during public comment time, strongly voicing their concerns over the way the family of the slain teen was treated.
Aoune, who his known for his loud, forceful style and his strategic wearing of a body camera, was briefly escorted from the council chambers to calm down when he was unwilling to curtail his loudly spoken concerns.
Melvindale resident Annette Taylor soothed the mood in chambers by leading a moment of prayer, along with the support of local activist Mike Hachem.