144 empty chairs placed in Lawrence park to honor coronavirus victims

LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera announced Thursday that the city has completed a memorial that consists of 144 empty chairs in remembrance of those who have died from the coronavirus.

Rivera said he was inspired to build the memorial in Campagnone Common Park after seeing images of a memorial in Washington D.C. that features 20,000 empty chairs, each representing 10 Americans who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

“This memorial is a symbol of not just the lives this virus has taken but also of the fight we are actively in against it. This pandemic has completely turned our lives around, not since the Civil War have we seen this level of crisis across our nation,” Rivera said in news release. “At this point in time, one in 20 people in Lawrence have contracted COVID-19, that’s 5,284 people. This virus has made home the only place we can truly be safe, brought our economy to a complete halt, and has left our children learning in ways we’ve never thought of before.”

Rivera added, “We must continue to give this virus the respect it deserves, it can and will continue to kill, we have lost 144 members of our community and only we as a community can stop it from taking more. We have to wear our masks, stay home when we’re sick, avoid large gatherings, quarantine when required and get tested when we aren’t sure. It is time for us to make it a personal responsibility to stop the spread, because until we do we will keep adding chairs.”

The chairs are lined up in rows in the park facing Lawrence City Hall. Nighttime lighting and police surveillance cameras have been installed around the memorial to promote safety and assure that the memorial stays intact while it is in place.

To honor and respect the memory of those who have passed away, Rivera is urging the public to refrain from sitting in the chairs.

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