Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Street Memorials Present a Dilemma

At Monday’s City Council meeting, the executive director of a non-profit housing organization cited the group’s success in 11 projects. But sale of the latest one, in the 900 block of West Third Street, is being impacted by the presence of a street memorial to a person who died a violent death several months ago.

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.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger olddoc said...

I am sure that in some "code" or ordinance the problem is addressed.If not an ordinance limiting the time period for the code should be enacted. Then Mr. Hellwig should enforce it.Lack of appropriate code enforcement and not personal vendettas has been a long time city problem

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is an interesting problem. there are memorials on many roads that are allowed to stay for as long as they last. this is litter of a sort isn't it?

there should be an expectation that after a week or a month, these memorials get removed.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not pass an ordinance allowing say a two week grace period, then the display must be removed. Limit what can be displayed, like candles, or flowers, but not clothing. Looks like a street person is drying out their laundry.

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do other towns handle this situation? While it is understandable that people want to memorialize their loved ones, what of others who don't want to be reminded of either the person or the, in this instance, crime?

I like the idea of setting limits as to what could be displayed. North Plainfield just placed a plaque at the tree where an officer died a couple of years ago, the people around the area seemed to be Ok with this display of affection.

Death is such a complex subject that many rather don't face it nor talk about it for fear of calling it upon themselves!
But really, aren't we dying a bit each day? Shouldn't we ourselves be celebrating, and putting our own memorials where ever we go, on daily basis?

Perhaps we should do a vigil right there to bring peace, and acceptance, to those ones who are still grieving this death.


3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent of a young college student that was gunned down in the streets of a city that I once loved, I think that Mr. Martin Hellwig needs to be trying to sold these murders rather than worry about me putting up ballons, flowers and candles for my son. I am still unable to sleep and eat because the people that killed my baby is still out there. Your child could be next.

3:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home