Columbus City Council and Mayor Andrew Ginther are trying something radical to address increased violence in the city: reaching out to the ghosts of murder victims for help.
As part of the new anti-violence program, Second Shot, the city will be hiring psychic mediums to communicate with the dead about reducing gun violence.
“I will be the first to admit that we didn’t do enough for these poor souls while they were alive,” Mayor Ginther said. “A big part of the problem is that the majority of the victims are people of color, and, ironically, we can’t see them very well while they are alive. It isn’t until they’re dead that we really can relate to them and understand what they are saying. The Second Shot program will be an opportunity for both sides to start over and work together toward a brighter future.”
Mayor Ginther said he has at least 300 ghosts haunting him that he thinks would make suitable candidates for the program.
“I should probably take a certain level of responsibility as mayor, a minimal amount, but the reality is that we are all to blame for the violence plaguing our city,” Ginther said. “When these ghosts hover over me at night and demand answers to questions like, ‘Why didn’t you keep me safe?’ and ‘When are things ever going to change?’, I think it would be valuable if we opened up a dialogue with them and listened to what they are trying to say. I feel bad when I fall asleep blissfully as if there aren’t hundreds of ghouls swarming above my bed, blaming me for their untimely demise.”
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin believes the innovative program will reach a demographic of young black men who are historically challenging to engage.
“We need help reducing violence, and who better to help us than those that have been affected? The challenge is getting them to work with us. On the street, talking to people like me or the police would make you a snitch,” Hardin explained. “But those worldly concerns are no longer an issue when you’re dead. If you’re already a victim, you struck out. It is game over. You have nothing to lose by talking about it. You might even save the life of someone you care about. I think I’ll have a lot more success getting through to these young brothers once they have reached their eternal resting place.”
The working committee organized by City Council and Mayor Ginther’s office has prepared a preliminary list of questions to ask spirits who sign up for the program, including:
- Why did you get murdered?
- Who murdered you?
- What would you have done differently to avoid being murdered?
- Do you know about any upcoming murders?
- How would you rate the experience of being murdered in Columbus, Ohio, on a scale of 1-10? With one being the worst possible experience and ten being the best.
- On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend murder to your living peers?
- Would you be willing to stop haunting us in return for a Playstation gift card?
The program will begin June 1st with a séance where city officials will try to contact the dead and recruit them to participate.
Columbus began experiencing a significant uptick in violence last year. 2020 was the city’s deadliest year on record, and there have already been 70 killings so far in 2021. It took until mid-July to reach that number last year.