Street Memorials Present a Dilemma
Should such memorials be removed? If so, how and when? Surely such displays are disconcerting to prospective homebuyers in a particular neighborhood. But they mean a lot to those who erect them.
Street memorials to fallen victims of gun violence spring up spontaneously, as do memorials to those who die in car crashes and, in one highly organized effort, bicyclists and pedestrians who are victims of traffic accidents. Another question is whether the shooting or gang-related death memorials are different, and if so, why?
I have not seen the display on West Third Street, but we have one right on our block on the fence outside the Scott Drug parking lot. It consists of various items of clothing hung on a fence, with “RIP” messages for a person who died of gunshot wounds in South Plainfield.
Obviously, “Mu Mu” was well-known to people on Block 832. The memorial includes candles, various liquor bottles and tributes inscribed on shorts and T-shirts with a marker pen.
There is no house for sale in our immediate vicinity, but there are people who come to a nearby church for worship services, plays, community events, weddings or memorial services inside the church.
This display makes them wonder how safe the neighborhood is, if there are tributes to those fallen to gun violence. Might there be shootings while church people are only trying to get to a meeting or other event?
Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig promised to look into the problem, which he agreed has sensitive aspects. Certainly it is necessary to honor the intent of those who made the memorial, but then there is the public perception of what it implies.
This is definitely an issue that invites comments.