Many people find it outrageous that one day after an officer was slain in Jersey City, the accused cop killer had a bigger memorial than that of the police officer who was killed. Filled with balloons, empty bottles of liquor, love messages and candles, the memorial for the killer seems to mock the officer who was gunned down.
Rookie officer Melvin Santiago was gunned down after he went to a call about a robbery in progress at a local 24-hour pharmacy. His alleged killer, Lawrence Campbell, was gunned down by other officers at the scene.
Although most of the memorial’s visitors would not identify themselves, a neighbor of Campbell said that she knew Campbell, but that he was nothing at all like the monster that allegedly gunned down the officer. She claimed that he was always looking out for people on their block and that he was a good man.
Angelique Campbell, his widow, said that she was sorry but that he should have gunned down more of the police if they had just planned on killing him. Later she gave her apologies for what she had said.
City officials were outraged that some of the residents were showing more grief and support for Lawrence Campbell than for the slain officer. The fact that Campbell, the accused killer of the Jersey City cop, had a bigger memorial than the slain officer was hard for some to comprehend.
A small sidewalk memorial has been erected to the officer who was slain, and much smaller than the one that is for Campbell. The memorial for the officer was put outside of the Walgreens in which the fatal shootings took place, and has been drawing mourners since Monday when the store was again open for business.
Although Jersey City has been seeing economic gentrification and improvement, crime is still an issue. The neighborhood in which Campbell lived, as well as the Walgreen which is within a mile, is far from the downtown glittering waterfront, taco shops and impressive office towers.
There has been an increase in the police presence over the recent months, although there have been few positive results, according to Police Director James Shea and Mayor Steven Fulop. They say progress that has been made over violent crimes is fragile and often erased by incidents such as the one on Sunday.
There was a 22 percent drop in Jersey City’s violent crimes during the first quarter of 2014, in comparison to the same quarter last year. There have been 15 homicides so far this year.
Police have no idea why Campbell might have committed the act of shooting the officer. He had prior arrests for drugs and had a recent release from jail back in January. He did not try robbing the store, but assaulted the armed guard at the store and took his gun. He then told someone they should tune into the news, since he would be famous.
Perhaps the police will never know what allegedly turned Lawrence Campbell into a Jersey City cop killer, and why he has a bigger memorial than the slain officer. Perhaps it is just a sign of the times and a sign of the things that are to come.
By Sharon Hendricks