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.


  1. Why don't you tell your readers how you have written in JNS that these memorials are blight that need to be removed when they become weathered, and how you either take them down or call the city to have them removed?

  2. Anon 12:45, if the first memorial hadn't been removed after the rain made it look exactly like a blight, I would certainly have called it in and said it needed to be removed. I've called for other memorials to be taken down when either they've deteriorated or when it's clear that the property owner (such as a bank-owned vacant house) has likely not given permission for such things to be on the property.

    I do think there ought to be a period of time where we let these stand out of respect for the family of those who have lost someone. And if the property owner has given permission for these to stay indefinitely, fine. Otherwise, after a while they do need to come down.

    Anon 1:01, there really isn't a definitive answer to that.

  3. chris had a family and was a good man and a dedicated father.... As long as i am around i will keep the memorial going and he someone removes it i will happily and with great determination put something else up so that everytime someone walks or rides past they will remember that this was such a senseless murder. He did not do anything to deserve this and did not lead a lifestyle to be prone to violence. Chris was not a threat to any person. Just because someone dies in this manner does not mean they were criminals. Rest in Paradise Chris!

  4. Anon 10:56, I'm deeply sorry for your loss and thank you for your comment.

  5. Also if anyone is interested we will be holding another vigil Friday October 8 at 6pm on the corner of 30th and Colfax and we want to make a statement loud and clear that he was loved and this was unnecessary

  6. Great..leave the alcohol at home and be respectful to Chris' memory

  7. Ur fuckin ignorant.... No one even mentioned bringing alcohol but the fact that you automatically assume it shows just the type of person you are. On a more positive note there is two suspects in custody!!! Thank God!!!

  8. Anon 5:52, in case my post wasn't clear enough, I was commending this site and those contributing to it for the ABSENCE of liquor bottles strewn around. These tragic memorials are all too common to begin with, and the presence of alcohol at many sites where the victim wasn't even of age is also an issue. This memorial is easily the most respectful and dignified one I've seen.

    And thank God indeed that suspects are in custody.

  9. I understood ur post but I was talkin about the one b4 me.

  10. Anon 11:12, ok we're cool. And by the way, when directing a comment at a specific person or in response to another commenter, it's helpful to begin your comment with that commenter's information (like I just did). That way, in case another commenter says something that I post as well, it's clear who you're talking about or referring to.

    Also, anon 11:13, the time and date of the upcoming vigil is at the same time as the closing ceremonies of the Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter event in the EcoVillage. I do want to stop by and pay my respects, but I might not be able to.

  11. This post is just an attempt to cover your ass after someone called you out in the Tevlin column in the Strib.
    We know you think these memorial are trash and should be removed. Your respect is fake.

  12. Anon 9:59, it was someone who called me out in the comments section of that article, not the article itself. And of course, they oversimplified my statements and opinions on this matter.

    And by the way, I don't do fake respect.


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