Friends and family of deceased biker Michael Gonnella built a roadside memorial to honor his memory. The memorial disappeared last week.
(courtesy of John Squillace)
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Roadside memorial removed without reason
Staff Report~ 6/4/2014
DESERT HILLS – Friends and family of Michael Gonnella, a.k.a. ‘Boston’, are struggling to understand why someone sawed away the metal cross at his memorial and took all other items.
Sometime late Tuesday, May 27 or early Wednesday, May 28, someone came and removed every item from the roadside memorial at Carefree Highway and 14th Street for well-loved biker Gonnella. Going beyond taking memorial items sitting on the ground, whoever removed the memorial also took a metal cross that friends had cemented into the ground. The cross was sawed off and taken away.
“It’s offensive and disrespectful,” said Janine Griffin, who became friends with Gonnella about 10 years ago and met his family after his death in 2013.
Gonnella was killed in a motorcycle/vehicle accident at Carefree Highway and 14th Street last August. His family and friends erected the roadside memorial to honor his memory. As a well-loved part of the biker community, Gonnella’s memory was memorialized with a bike run last September.
“Michael was all about peace and harmony and love. He touched everybody he knew,” Griffin noted. She added that 10-20 people a week visit the roadside tribute to pay their respects.
To the memorial creators’ knowledge, the memorial sits on public property. Griffin reported that friends had contacted both the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, and both organizations said they had nothing to do with the removal of the memorial. There is a fence behind the memorial, so efforts are being made to contact that landowner to see if they have further information.
Anyone with any information on the missing memorial can contact Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gonnella’s many friends and his family are not letting the tribute they had to his memory disappear permanently. Anyone who would like to honor Gonnella’s memory is welcome to drop off a tribute item at the crossroads of Carefree Highway and 14th Street. Already, the memorial is starting to fill back in.
“We will rebuild the memorial bigger and better,” emphasized Griffin.