As the city of Camden remains on the brink of breaking its homicide record, controversy is now brewing over the location of the memorial honoring victims of violence in the city.
Stop the Trauma on People (STOP) created the memorial outside Camden City Hall to remember those who have lost their lives to violence in Camden this year. The memorial consists of 58 crosses containing the names of the 58 homicide victims in 2012, which ties a record set in Camden back in 1995.
“We have a very tight family,” said Ketsy Crespo, the sister of one of the murder victims. “So we’re doing this for him and everyone else who lost someone.”
“It’s very real,” said Jinely Rosado of Runnemede. “Sophia Ortiz was my God sister and she was a victim of domestic violence. She passed in May.”
Activists with STOP and Cease Murder Diplomats are fighting to keep the memorial at City Hall so that everyone can see it. Some members of city council however believe the memorial makes it difficult for the city to move forward. The council is gearing up for a ceremony on Tuesday renaming city hall in honor of the late Randy Primas, Camden’s first African American Mayor.
“I can understand what they represent,” said Brian Coleman of the Camden City Council. “I just don’t think this particular location is where we need to set up the memorial.”
Father Jeff Putthoff, the founder of STOP, says the memorial is a way for families to heal and bring awareness to the city’s alarming death toll.
“We’re going to continue to advocate that people have not just the right but that the reality of their life is acknowledged,” said Father Putthoff.
The dedication to Mayor Primas takes place Tuesday at noon. As for the memorial, the council president says there is no timetable for a removal. The issue of whether the memorial will remain at city hall is now in the hands of Camden’s mayor.