Bridge memorial defaced

The I-35W bridge disaster memorial in Minneapolis was a lovely tribute to the people who died in the collapse four years ago.

It’s a pity it took only a few hours for vandals to deface it.

The Star Tribune reports someone stole two-dozen stainless steel (pricey stuff) letters from the memorial, including the names of those who died in the 2007 disaster.

All the letters and names are now being removed until the memorial can be repaired.

Company policy prevents me from actually writing the last sentence of this post. But there’s nothing that says you can’t.

Update 3:15 p.m. – The press release from the city of Minneapolis:

Minneapolis police this morning responded to an incident of vandalism at the new Remembrance Garden dedicated to the victims and survivors of the I-35W Bridge collapse. The memorial, which was dedicated on Aug. 1, features a “survivor wall,” which includes the names of collapse survivors and a message. Vandals removed 22 letters from the message.

Mayor R.T. Rybak said, “When the bridge collapsed and people were suffering, hundred of thousands of Minnesotans surrounded them with compassion. Now one or more individuals, through a single act of remarkable ignorance, are prolonging that suffering. That can change: I call on those responsible to immediately return the stolen letters. It’s beyond description how wrong this act is, but it does not change the thousands of acts of compassion and support that this community has shown.”

Police are investigating the vandalism, and in the meantime, the remaining letters are being removed from the wall until new ones can be installed. It is expected that it will be approximately two weeks before the new letters are in place.

Anyone with information on this act of vandalism is asked to call the police department’s First Precinct at (612) 673-5701 and ask for the property crimes division.

The message on the survivor wall was crafted by survivors and the loved ones of those who were lost. It reads, “Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the fact of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events.”

Update 4:31 p.m. Courtesy of Bryan Reynolds (via Twitter), here’s what the missing letters could spell:

Whoever I

However I

Viewer Ho

Viewer Oh

Review Ho

Review Oh

Rewove Hi

Heir Wove

Hire Wove

Hive Wore

Hero Wive

Hero View

Hoer Wive

Hoer View

Whore Vie

Hove Wire

Hove Weir

Hew Vireo

Here I Vow

Ere Hi Vow

Veer Hi Ow

Veer Who I

Veer How I

Ever Hi Ow

Ever Who I

Ever How I

Eve Hi Row

He Ire Vow

He Rive Ow

He Vie Row

He Wive Or

He View Or

Eh Ire Vow

Eh Rive Ow

Eh Vie Row

Eh Wive Or

Eh View Or

Hie Re Vow

Hie Rev Ow

Hive Re Ow

Hive We Or

Hover We I

Her Vie Ow

Her Wove I

Hew Vie Or

Hew Rove I

Hew Over I

Rive We Ho

Rive We Oh

Vie Re Who

Vie Re How

Vie We Rho

Wive Re Ho

Wive Re Oh

View Re Ho

View Re Oh

Rove We Hi

Over We Hi

Wove Re Hi

Woe Rev Hi

Owe Rev Hi

He Re I Vow

He Rev I Ow

Eh Re I Vow

Eh Rev I Ow

Rev We Ho I

Rev We Oh I

I’m thinking the perpetrators weren’t trying to make some statement here.

  • I’ve got your back, Bob.

    What the f*ck is wrong with these people?

  • There are some very sick, depraved people in this world. Only cowards attack memorials to the dead.

  • Amy G

    It took a decade for families of 9/11 victims to come to terms with a memorial and even now, not all are on board with current plans. This seems personal. If not, I hope the police are paying attention to online sales or otherwise of unique steel letters….

  • Duke Powell

    My first thought is “scrappers.”

  • Jennifer

    I thought MinnPost summed it up nicely by simply ending the article with this simple one word sentence:


  • Jeanne

    I personally don’t believe in hell, but I’ll make an exception in this case.

    There’s a special hell for people who do something like this.

  • There are plenty of invectives I want to use that I don’t think Bob would allow me to put into a comment.

  • Jim Shapiro

    While symbols are undeniably important, the damage that was done involved stone and metal and can be repaired.

    If we’re going to identify sick, depraved people who have a special place reserved for them in hell, vandals most likely looking to sell scrap metal probably aren’t on the short list.

    Those who somehow abuse living, breathing, feeling human beings are perhaps better candidates for that dubious distinction.

  • Disco

    This is the third article on this story that I’ve read. None of them give the full text of what the sign said. They only tell us that letters were stolen — well, what did those letters spell? Talk about poor journalism.

  • @ Jim Shapiro – well, the vandal(s) have perhaps abused the living, breathing, feeling human beings who lost their loved ones in the bridge collapse. They certainly have enough pain without this disrespectful crime on top of it. Respect for the living and respect for the dead are not an either/or dichotomy. We can do both.

  • Dan

    I’ll admit to feeling a little outraged by this story–it does seem to be a monumentally calloused act by the perpetrators. But at the same time, the memorial itself makes me a little uncomfortable in its very nature. Yes, the collapse of the bridge and ensuing deaths were tragic. But isn’t the death of every child from cancer tragic? Isn’t grandma’s descent into Alzheimer’s tragic? Isn’t every family torn apart by drug abuse tragic? Isn’t the famine in Somalia tragic?

    I suppose I should ask, aren’t those events just as tragic? The very existence of the bridge memorial would seem to imply that they aren’t.

    And yet, I don’t know that I’d want to live in a world without memorials, in whatever form they may come.

  • Bob Collins

    //Talk about poor journalism.

    Given the number of letters that disappeared, I imagine they could’ve spelled any number of things.

    The original letters spelled:

    “Our lives are not only defined by what happens, but by how we act in the face of it, not only by what life brings us, but by what we bring to life. Selfless actions and compassion create enduring community out of tragic events.”

    And the resulting message after the letters were taken were in the photograph of the original Strib story to which I linked.

    Maybe they spelled, “be nicer.”

  • Jim Shapiro

    Drae – you point out that the vandals “perhaps” abused the living. And that respect for the living and the dead need not be mutually exclusive. Agreed on both points.

    My observation is simply to point out that the amount of rage elicited by this post as measured by responses is double that of the photo of the starving child posted yesterday,

    and while some appear to have unlimited pools of outrage to draw from, perhaps an evaluation of priorities is in order.

  • Jeff

    Before damning to hell the bastards who abused the living who lost loved ones when the bridge collapsed, let’s think a bit more. Who took the letters? Perhaps a homeless schizophrenic who no longer gets social services from the government and thus can’t afford to stay on their medication. Who is the *real* bastard? The person who stole the letters for scrap money or the person who stopped the aid money? And what about URS Corp., the company that paid out $54 million because they didn’t inspect the bridge properly before it fell? If they had done their job properly the bridge may not have fallen. Have they been condemned to hell?

    I agree that the defacement of the memorial is upsetting, but let’s not form a virtual lynch mob over it.

  • @ Jim Shapiro – Agreed.

  • Bob Collins

    //a homeless schizophrenic who no longer gets social services from the government and thus can’t afford to stay on their medication.

    I eliminated homeless schizophrenics from the suspect list right off the bat. My wife’s job is helping homeless schizophrenics get the medication, housing, and resources they need. It’s a difficult job but those services are still available.

    My guess is if you were desperate and needed to sell metal for scrap, you’d take all the letters.

  • My guess is it’s a couple of youths who are under the false impression it was a cool thing to do.

  • Heather

    Trendy parents who don’t want to spring for their kids’ names in Pottery Barn letters?

  • Jamie

    Someone stole the Honda logo off the front of my car recently. I heard from my mechanic shop that some kids apparently think it’s cool to wear big shiny letters around their necks.

  • Jeanne

    Guess my “hell” comment raised some ire. Who knew? Yes, it’s easy to sit at the computer desk and condemn others, isn’t it?

    Here’s a little insight from my 19-year-old daughter when she saw the TV news broadcast about the theft: “You can’t be serious?! Why would someone even want to do that?” So I guess some youth (in an opinion poll of 1) think the actions of whomever warrants some questioning of why someone would even think to deface the memorial.

  • BJ

    I love reading the comments. Even the Troll like ones are actually very thought provoking (most of the time).

    Not that any comment here was troll like, just got me thinking.


  • John

    I’ve yet to hear anyone blame the design firm for attaching numerous steel letters in a fashion so easily removable. OF COURSE this was going to happen.

    Monumentally stupid.

  • Rick

    I agree with John. As you said, pricey stuff. If I can’t afford to get food and happen to have a crow bar, it wouldn’t take long for me to pull the letters off and then find a place to sell them.

    I feel bad for saying this, but let’s be honest, up to 3 screws holding something expensive that would take about 5 minutes to remove isn’t going to stop a whole lot of people. Hunger and/or greed can be great motivators. Why not spell it with dollar bills and put it in glass, that would at least have the potential to be painful to remove.