Miami Times Staff Report
A mock cemetery at Simonhoff Park meant to memorialize lives lost to COVID-19 was repaired over the weekend, after people arriving to the site late last week found most of the coroplast headstones flattened – the victim of a man suspected of having mental illness, and who has now expressed remorse for the damage.
Passersby, including children, were reportedly appalled and disappointed by the destruction of a place that’s become sacred to nearby residents and the community at large, particularly those mourning the loss of loved ones who have succumbed to COVID-19. Many participated in restoring the memorial.
“This is what I call unity in the community,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who is credited with establishing the memorial. “Their willingness to help without being asked is a testament to not only the cemetery’s significance to people who’ve lost loved ones to this abominable virus and the comfort it brings, but also our ability to come together during times of crisis.”
The Liberty City shrine came about in partnership with then Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and the Circle of Brotherhood. Visitors may write the names of people who have died from the coronavirus across the site’s faux tombstones. The memorial also is intended to serve as a stark reminder of the disproportionate number of Black Americans who are dying as a result of the pandemic.
The space holds special meaning to many who were kept away from a dying friend or relative’s hospital bedside due to COVID-19 restrictions. Funeral services have also been curtailed, robbing those left behind of traditional mourning rituals.