'Parkland Strong' signs must come down, community association says

Stoneman Douglas parent decries decision to remove them by November

By Roy Ramos - Reporter

PARKLAND, Fla. - It is a community that experienced one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history, but Parkland's strength rose above, with its residents coming together after 17 people were killed in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In the weeks and months that followed, memorials grew outside of the high school and throughout nearby neighborhoods, with residents posting signs with messages like "Parkland Strong" and "#MSDStrong."

"It makes them feel positive. It makes them feel supported. Why should something like that be taken down?" said Donna Ali, whose daughter is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

However, Ali said that is exactly what her homeowners' association at Parkland Golf & Country Club wants her to do.

Ali's neighborhood has about a dozen Parkland Strong signs dotting the front lawns of houses.

"In keeping with the memorial plans, the community relations committee is asking residents that have shown solidarity with the MSD family by placing memorials in their yard to take them down by Nov. 15," board members wrote in an email.

For Ali's family -- especially her daughter, Ariana -- the signs stand for much more.

"She did lose one of her friends, and a couple of other friends were injured," Ali said.

After Ariana took to Twitter with outrage for being told to take down the sign, her mother received another email, which referred her to someone else.

"He said that is just one of the bylaws, that we need to take down lawn signs," Ali said.

It's a rule that Ali said should be changed, considering what their community has experienced and what the Parkland Strong signs signify.

"Why should we take down a sign that shows support for a community and for the tragedy that they all went through?" Ali said.

Ali said someone from the association informed her the community was working on a permanent memorial somewhere in the development.

Board members from the Parkland Golf and Country Club sent a news release Thursday to Local 10 News, stating the signs will now be allowed to stay up until the permanent memorial has been completed. They said they had not received any complaints or concerns from residents about the signs, but heard from a handful of MSD students on Wednesday.

"The board immediately decided to suspend the removal request until the permanent memorial is complete as our community does not want to bring any additional pain to anyone, especially an MSD student," the news release stated.

The memorial is expected to be completed by February.

 

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