Removal of memorial honoring Black lives upsets community members

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) -State College community members are left in disbelief after a memorial honoring black lives was cleared away at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza.

Community member Tierra Williams says she noticed the site was gone on Monday morning.

“I broke down and cried here. I could not believe that somebody in good conscious would pick up pictures, candles, and bears, and put them in the trash,” said Williams.

According to Williams the memorial was first set up back in March, in honor of the one year anniversary of the death of George Floyd.

“We put up posters, people wrote affirmations, we put up teddy bears, candles, as well as framed pictures of Osaze Osagie, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant and Daunte Wright,” said Williams.

But now all that was left was one dried rose and three tea light candles buried under the mulch.

“I’ve been trying to play it back in my head and I just wonder to myself was there a worker who was like maybe we shouldn’t do this? But it still got done,” said Williams.

She calls it a step back, especially after Juneteenth.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine says the removal was in an effort to clean up the area.

“It was a apart of the cleanup that occurred on Sunday. We had our crews go down to the plaza following the Juneteenth event. As it has been described to me the flowers and some of the teddy bears and things were moldy so they were removed as part of that cleanup,” said Fountaine.

According to Fountaine, the act was not intentional.

“I personally feel terrible about what happened we understand the hurt that it has caused. It was a regrettable mistake that we made and the borough of Stage College will work with the groups that have organized the memorial to make sure that, that does not happen again,” vowed Fountaine.

Williams says no sooner did she post the empty site to social media, community members were already dropping by with more flowers to replace the ones taken.

“This is the one building in State College with a black man’s name on it. And if we’re not allowed to put a memorial in front of a Marin Luther King mural, then where are Black people supposed to put the dead at? Where are we supposed to grieve and put the slain? Where is comfortable for the borough where it’s not an eyesore and doesn’t bother you,” said Williams.

A rededication of the memorial site will be held tonight at 8 p.m.

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