City Takes Down Memorial Dedicated to Murder Victim

By: Jorge Rodas Email
By: Jorge Rodas Email

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Driving down the street we see roadside memorials all the time remembering people who were killed. The family of one of Rockford's most recent murder victims says city cops threw away their make-shift memorial.

Robert Hawkins still remembers the night his nephew was killed.

“It crushes me man because live right there across the street and I heard the gunshots,” says Hawkins.

22 year old Jordan Bounsinh was killed after being shot at a Rockford gas station in September. Robert and his family placed a memorial next to where Bounsinh died but the city took it down.

"This is all I have to talk to my nephew,” said Hawkins, “this is all i have and the city took it from me."

“They just keep trying to put stuff for the family,” says neighbor Omar Serrano, “you know to mourn our people and they just take it down like he was a nobody."

The City of Rockford says makeshift memorials are only taken down when neighbors or people in the neighborhood complain about them. There are tons of them all over the city but there's no ordinance or specific law protecting them from being taken down. The city public works department removed the memorial. Their makeshift memorial policy states “we don't go looking for these memorials just to remove them. They are not permitted at any time. If we receive a complaint about the memorial then the public works street division will remove the memorial and store it at the yards for 30 days. If we cannot find a contact person or no one comes to retrieve the memorial then it is thrown away.”

“It is not right for the city or the state to come along and take something down when this is all we have of the people that we love,” said neighbor Leslie Downey, “what is this hurting?”

“Their policy is ridiculous,” said Hawkins. “There are plenty of sites around the city that have been left untouched for years and for them to come not even two weeks later and do what they did is ridiculous."

The police department took down Bounsinh's memorial because there were likely markings near the site that were inappropriate. Normally the police department doesn't ask for memorials to be removed. City public works tell us the only memorials that are permitted and protected from being taken down are ones in memory of drunk driving victims but that the state has to approve them first.

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