Roadside shrines now limited by city ordinance

(Photo by Tatevik Aprikyan, WPRI-TV)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Under a new ordinance approved Thursday by New Bedford city councilors, shrines — sometimes known as “makeshift memorials” — put up in honor of the dead now must abide by rules: they will be removed by the city after 14 days, and votive candles and liquor bottles can no longer be part of the display. Furthermore, trees and poles on public property cannot be involved in the creation of the displays.

The city has not had policies on such shrines in the past.

The council’s vote was 9 in favor, two against. Steve Martins, one of the “no” votes, said he’s not sure why the issue even came up: “Some of them are very cleaned up, they’re neat, they don’t serve as a public safety issue.

“To put a time-stamp on someone’s grieving process is wrong. That’s why people think the government is mistrusted towards them… It’s no wonder people have no faith in their government,” Martins said.

Eyewitness News contacted several city council members who voted in favor of the ordinance, but none were available for an interview. Councilor-at-Large Linda Morad told the New Bedford Standard-Times “in most cases, these shrines stay forever.” And, “There are places for grieving and respect, but not on the side of the road.”

Martins said it would be up to the New Bedford police department to monitor how long shrines stay up.

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