Westland cemetery welcomes 'Pokemon GO Players,' leaving many upset

Families of the deceased say they don't want the players around the graves

WESTLAND, Mich. – Family members of those resting in a Westland cemetery are unhappy about the cemetery’s signs reading "Welcome Pokémon GO Players."

Pokémon GO is a game played on smartphones in which players roam about different locations, capturing virtual characters which can be see on the users screen.

On Friday night, several people said dozens of players were walking around the Cadillac Memorial Gardens West Cemetery, playing the game while ignoring their loved ones' graves.

"Usually we come here and there are one or two cars. There must have been 40 or 50 cars and a steady stream coming in and out," Robert Gladstone said.

Gladstone was visiting his parents' graves with his wife, when suddenly a group formed around them.
"And we're standing there, and people are standing next to us thinking that we found a Pokémon," said Sherrie Gladstone.

The Gladstones aren't the only ones upset.

"That is so disrespectful. My parents paid good money to be resting here in peace," Jill Marek said. "And to have strangers walk all over their grave sites? No."

Adding to their outrage is what the cemetery has done: posting signs, inviting the players in.

Local 4 was provided a copy of an internal memo sent to all Midwest Memorial Group employees.

Part of it read, “In fact, we are in the process of having a sign company prepare appropriate sings quickly to be erected at the entrances of our cemeteries 'Welcome Pokémon GO Players' – requesting that they be respectful of where they are and the impact their presence may have on grieving families and friends visiting grave sites as well as memorial service events taking place."

The decision is not acceptable to family members, who say players aren't being respectful and shouldn't be invited in.

"We have grandparents, aunts and uncles, (and) a grandfather and you’re walking all over them with wagons and carts and playing music like it’s a big picnic area?  These are graves, They are resting in peace. You have no business being here for that,” said Vickie Robinson.

During a visit Saturday morning, one player roaming the cemetery said he has seen the crowds, but doesn’t believe they’re being disrespectful.

“It’s how you look at it,” said Chris Tis, of Garden City. “If you see people kicking over flowers, stepping on graves desecrating things, but I saw a lot of people hanging out having a good time.”

Tis added, “This is probably the most action the graveyard has ever seen. I think it’s a good thing because these people that are in the ground may have gotten lonely. Now they have life coming to a place that has nothing but death."

About the Author:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.