Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Streetside Memorial for Christopher de Ronde
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman
Shortly after the tragic murder of Christopher de Ronde, Minneapolis' 34th homicide victim of 2010, a makeshift memorial was erected at the corner of 30th and Colfax. We were battered by rains, and the site was looking pretty shabby, when I drove past and saw Mad Dads holding their own vigil and talking with passersby. The next day the memorial was gone, although it was unclear who removed it.
Not long after that, the items photographed above appeared at the site. Not much seems to be known or at least publicly broadcast about Christopher de Ronde. Although the only news site that allows comments on this article is the City Pages blog, where someone identified only as "T.O." claims that de Ronde had no criminal record. In the Star Tribune article, a relative said he was "a little wild at times. He was always up to something." His obituary can be found here.
Even with this little information, the memorial seems to tell us at least a few details about de Ronde or his loved ones. The most revealing aspects are shown in what ISN'T there, such as...
...there are no liquor bottles strewn around. The paper taped to the tree doesn't contain racial epithets. There have been a mix of both real and artificial flowers. There is relatively little here that would directly indicate a celebration of a lifestyle that in other cases put people at a much higher risk of such an end.
(On the Johnny Northside blog, the criminal records of homicide victims are often published. This tactic, although harsh and sometimes done in an insensitive manner, is one that I do frankly agree with. I have little desire to speak ill of the deceased, but let's be real. Far too many of our homicide victims are young men and sometimes women who were "just turning their lives around." And the question I always ask is "why did this person's life need turning around in the first place?" In my opinion, understanding the factors that led to the homicide are crucial in addressing how we prevent the next one. That includes not shying away from the more uncomfortable aspects of these cases.)
What is most heart-rending of all at de Ronde's streetside memorial is a candle that is always burning. Every time I've walked by, that candle is lit. Either it's one heck of a flame or one of de Ronde's loved ones is returning on a regular basis to keep it going. That alone tells us how much someone must have cared for this young man. And regardless of the circumstances surrounding his death, he had a child who will now grow up never knowing their father.