Controversial crosses will remain in front of Camden City Hall

Nyzia Easterling prays for her cousin Khalil Gibson in front of a cross near Camden's City Hall. The crosses have incited debate. APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer
Nyzia Easterling prays for her cousin Khalil Gibson in front of a cross near Camden's City Hall. The crosses have incited debate. APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer
Posted: November 14, 2012

The hand-painted crosses in front of Camden City Hall that for weeks have spurred sorrow and shame over the rising homicide toll will remain untouched despite concerns that they are unwittingly damaging the city's image.

"The crosses will not be removed," City Council President Frank Moran said in an interview Monday. "Absolutely not."

Moran's remarks came as activists behind the field of crosses warned they would try to prevent their removal or would replant them if they were taken away.

Stop Trauma on People, an antiviolence group, began planting the crosses more than a month ago to remember victims as the homicide toll grew. The group says its intention is to shame city officials into action and decry the daily trauma inflicted on residents by violence and poverty.

But the Roosevelt Plaza crosses - 81 of them thrust into the grass there as of Monday - bearing the names and ages of victims from this year and earlier, also drew controversy last week after Councilman Brian Coleman said they underscored the image of the city as a dangerous place.

He said he feared they would discourage visitors and businesses. He also questioned whether the organizers had city permission to erect the crosses.

Group members planted two more crosses Monday in memory of this year's 57th and 58th homicide victims. The toll tied a record set in 1995.

It was unclear Monday whether the organizers of the cross plantings had city permission to raise them so close to City Hall.

 


Contact Darran Simon at 856-779-3829 or at dsimon@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @darransimon.

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