This week, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop ordered the city to take down a shrine dedicated to Lawrence Campbell, the man who ambushed and killed a 23-year-old rookie police officer. Officer Melvin Santiago was gunned down early Sunday as he responded to an armed robbery call at a 24-hour pharmacy.
The memorial was on display in the Jersey City neighborhood where Campbell lived. It included candles, balloons and messages from friends of the man who police said was one of three suspects wanted for a prior homicide.
The mayor lashed out Monday at residents for memorializing a man who killed a police officer. “There are people in every single community who just don’t value life, and this is highlighted by a situation like this,” Fulop said in a statement. “There’s a lot of reasons for that; some of it is decades of how they perceive police, some it’s jobs, some of it’s socioeconomics. But at the end of the day, we’re dealing with it today. When you talk about that situation, yes, it’s ignorant, yes, it’s disgusting, but this represents a lot of the challenges we have.”
Following in the footsteps of his uncle, Santiago had dreamed of becoming a police officer since he was a boy. He joined the Jersey City force as a rookie in December. Officers from Jersey City and surrounding towns paid their respects Tuesday afternoon by setting up a table with a placard under Santiago’s name at the West District precinct where he had been assigned. It read, “End of Watch 7-13-14.” His funeral is Friday, July 18.