BUFFALO, NY- A makeshift memorial in honor of a man shot and killed during an altercation with Buffalo police, has caused tempers to flare between nearby residents and mourners.
The memorial, at the corner of Tonawanda and Garfield streets, was the sight of vigils for Jose Hernandez Rossy, who collapsed not far away after being mortally wounded on May 7.
Hernandez Rossy died at Kenmore Mercy Hospital and the shooting remains under investigation by the NY State Attorney General’s office.
Ten days later, the memorial remains, to the consternation of some neighbors who say the conduct of visitors is impacting their quality of life.
"I have received numerous calls to my office,” confirmed North District Common Council Member Joseph Golombek, who represents the area. “People that are coming in to the memorial are parking on the wrong side of the street, and blocking neighbors in by parking in their driveways and refusing to move,” Golombek told WGRZ-TV.
Perhaps worse, some neighbors report mourners visiting at 1 am, often playing loud music and drinking, and threatening neighbors who object.
“There have been some near altercations in the neighborhood due to this activity," Golombek said.
Neighbors who contacted Two On Your Side (but who were unwilling to go on camera because they fear for their safety) said that when one of them picked up empty liquor bottles left by mourners, and swept up glass from others that were broken, they were warned that bodily harm would come to them if they touched the memorial again, or the graffiti scrawled on the sidewalk around it.
"It's not even the man'[s family," said one who requested anonymity and worried about repercussions. "It's just trouble makers who don't even live around here."
Makeshift memorials have become a part of the modern societal fabric, but with some unintended consequences according to Golombeck, who notes that while a passerby might not know whether someone died in a car wreck, or succumbed to gunfire, they do know that something bad happened at that location.
“And then people’s instinct might tell them that it’s not a safe neighborhood and they will shy away from it,” he said.
Under an existing city practice, the memorial to Hernandez Rossy will probably be gone in a few more weeks, according both Golombek and a city spokesperson.
No Laws On The Books.
“Normally what happens is that a memorial stays up for three to four weeks, and then city will come in with a crew from the Mayor’s neighborhood impact team to remove it,” said Golombek, noting that members of the team are accompanied by a uniformed police officer and that reasonable efforts are made to return personal items such as pictures, teddy bears, or letters left behind to grieving family members.
However, while adopted as a general practice, there are actually no laws or codified ordinances covering any aspect of memorials like these, and Golombek, for one, is hesitant to author any.
“I don’t think so right now,” he said. “We try to be sensitive to both sides in situations like these, but I wish those coming here would be respectful of the fact that there are people living in this neighborhood and act accordingly.”