"You Do Not Own This Space": Pennsylvania Family's Memorial Taken Down

| by Nathaly Pesantez

A long-standing memorial maintained by a Pennsylvania couple for their daughter was entirely removed without the family's knowledge and replaced with an anonymous note that read, "YOU DO NOT OWN THIS SPACE," in its title. 

"They took away everything," Joan Dixon told WFMZ. 

Alexandra Dixon was 21 years old when she was struck by the driver of an SUV while riding on the back of a motorcycle in 2007. Since her death, a memorial had been maintained by her parents, Joan and Albert Dixon, at the cross streets where the incident took place. 

Albert noticed on Sunday that the memorial, which included a cross posted over 12 feet high, was no longer there. 

"They actually got a ladder and took it down, so they were persistent," Joan said. "They wanted everything removed."

A note was found at the site which said roadside memorials are "numerous," "distracting" and "dangerous."

"Left unchecked, the practice would eventually leave the highways littered with crosses, flags, flowers, etc.," part of the letter reads. "These items are legally considered abandoned refuse and can be simply picked up and taken by anyone who has a mind to."

The Dixon family said they've never seen anything like this for their memorial. 

"It did make us feel violated," Albert said. 

The letter also said that roadside memorials are methods for people to "make a private claim to public property through adverse possession."

Joan staunchly disagrees. 

"It's not only a comfort to the family, but it's a community reminder and a safety thing to say, 'Slow down, save a life, this could be your child,'" she said. 

Lower Macungie Township officials said there are no laws or ordinances that prohibit roadside memorials. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also said the roadside memorial has not brought any complaints to their offices. 

The Dixon family has already replaced the memorial. 

"No matter what, the memorial will be there," Albert said. "If we have to service it every day, it'll be there."

Roadside memorials are illegal in at least 15 states, with other states either implementing time frames for memorials or operating without specific legislation on them, according to the University Of Dayton.

Sources: WFMZUniversity of Dayton / Photo Credit: WFMZ