Providence changes city law on roadside memorials

A roadside memorial honors Sgt. Maxwell Dorley, a Providence police officer killed in a car crash in 2012.

The Providence City Council has changed city law to allow police officers to take down roadside memorials set up to remember loved ones killed in tragedies.

The Providence Journal reports that the council voted 10-2 Thursday to allow police to dismantle memorials if they encroach on private property or the public right of way. Two councilors abstained and one was absent.

The memorials often include stuffed animals, candles, photographs, flowers and written notes. Councilman Kevin Jackson opposed the ordinance change, saying the memorials are people's way of mourning.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says expressing grief must be balanced with public safety. He says there is a time when memorials have to be dismantled in a respectful way, in response to complaints and when they become an eyesore.