Around 400 motorbikes rumbled slowly through the streets of Thibodaux on Saturday to bid a final farewell to Ezekiel Harry, a 2-year-old boy from Houma whose body was found in a dumpster earlier this month.
Several hundred people filled the Moses Baptist Church on Canal Boulevard for Ezekiel’s funeral to show their support and offer their condolences to his family.
“You see all of the community coming together as a whole and embracing the family and really giving them the strength to endure this throughout,” said Michael Willis, a longtime friend of the family. ‘We have a lot of tragedies going on in New Orleans, Thibodaux and across the United States of America, and this family is showing they can come out, hold their heads up high and we’re trying to say to the world,’ Hey, keep your head up.”
The Houma boy’s body was found on July 12 in a trash can on Daspit Street, a short distance from the Houma Police Department headquarters. The child’s mother, Maya Jones, 28, and her boyfriend, Jermaine Robinson, 37, have been convicted of first-degree murder and other charges.
“This house is going to be haunted”:Neighbors shocked by the loss of Ezekiel Harry
Locals say his life was short-lived, but what happened to Ezekiel will weigh on the hearts and souls of the community for years to come. The trash can where Ezekiel’s body was found quickly became a memorial as people placed keepsakes for the boy, including stuffed animals and balloons. A vigil held in Houma’s courthouse square three days after the boy’s death drew hundreds of people as elected officials, police and religious leaders tried to console the general public.
Organizers of Saturday’s procession said bikers came from across the region and as far away as Texas to pay their respects to a boy whose plight sent shock waves through the community and beyond. They included local motorcycle clubs as well as units from area police departments.
When asked why the funeral and procession drew so many people, Cedric Henry, founder of the Insane Hunters of New Orleans, said it was because of the ending.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a child thrown into a bin like that,” said Henry, 56.
“Not only was this child taken from us, but the way he was taken from us was incorrigible,” said Michael Fitch, 54, a member of Houma-based Zydeco HOG. “I want the family to know that we care about him and that he was not trash.”
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It took about 10 minutes for the entire funeral procession to unfold a few blocks from Sanders Street, where Ezekiel was laid to rest in Moses Cemetery No. 2.
Inside the church, the family of Trey Harry, Ezekiel’s father, sat in the pews on one side, Jones’ family on the other.
Elaine Simoneaux-Mickens, a longtime friend of Jones’ mother, Jacqueline Jones, said it was important to support both sides of Ezekiel’s family. She hopes the tragedy will also raise awareness that child abuse is real.
“And for a baby, two years of his life, he had no chance of doing anything, you know, not even throwing his first soccer ball,” she said. “It’s just a hard pill to swallow.”