Two friends hope to raise awareness of violence by placing an artificial flower in a vase at a downtown barber shop for each Birmingham homicide victim.
New Deal Barber and Style Shop owner Erskine Simpson and longtime friend Earl Melton, a retired Birmingham police officer, have placed a flower in a corner of Simpson's shop since 2006. By the end of that year, 109 red roses filled the vase. In 2007, they added a vase and switched to gold flowers, 93 in all.
They're using purple roses for those who die in acts of violence this year -- 71 so far, according to police.
Melton calls the homicide division once a week to find out if there have been any recent cases. He hopes the flowers show victims' families that the slain are not forgotten.