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Maplewood Au Pair Remembered With Makeshift Memorial at Ricalton Square

On Sunday afternoon, Maplewood elected officials joined members of the town’s international au pair community for an informal memorial service at Ricalton Square in memory of Karen L. Bermudez-Rodriguez, 26, who was attacked and killed yesterday morning in Maplewood. Joseph D. Porter, whom authorities report was Bermudez-Rodriguez’ boyfriend, is in custody charged with her murder and that of her employer, David Kimowitz. Bermudez-Rodriguez was a native of Colombia.

Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis reported that town leaders stood “in solidarity with our strong, beautiful, and loving au pair community which organized a touching and heartbreaking makeshift memorial at Ricalton Square. It was their safe space on their terms, but we sat TOGETHER in a circle, mostly in silence, we hugged, cried, prayed – afterward messages of love and hope were sent into the beautiful blue sky over Maplewood on white balloons. (Pics do not include images of Au pairs for their safety.)”

Dafis reported that the memorial will remain in Ricalton Square for a few days: “Please take a moment to stop by and express your support, either by a message on the flag pole or with flowers.”

Dafis also made a plea for privacy for the family and friends of the victims:

“While the investigation continues and so that these crimes are successfully prosecuted, please refrain from gossip and speculation online, it’s also disrespectful to the victims and their families. As already reported, this was an isolated incident, the suspect has been apprehended and charged, there is no pending threat to the community – at this moment, that’s all we need to know or focus on. Allow the families to grieve and organize memorial services.”

Dafis told Village Green that there are as yet no organized efforts to aid the victims’ families financially or otherwise, but that any such efforts would be shared with the community as they come together.

From Maplewood Township Committee member Dean Dafis via the SOMA Lounge Facebook page:

We stand together as ONE, united in our grief, sorrow, and deep condolences for the victims of yesterday’s tragic and horrific double homicide in our quiet and safe community. Our sorrow and sympathies extend to the families and friends of the victims, and to anyone ever touched by violence, domestic or other. We condemn violence and weaponized hate toward women – 9 times out of ten the victims of domestic violence – immigrants (documented or undocumented), members of the LGBTQ community, black or brown people everywhere, other vulnerable populations, and toward animals. We encourage solidarity in spreading messages (and committing actions of) love, care, and acceptance to neighbors near and far instead of hate or violence. We join with teachers, spiritual leaders, activists, healers, and coaches everywhere in teaching our young men to love not fight.

This afternoon we stood in solidarity with our strong, beautiful, and loving Au pair community which organized a touching and heartbreaking makeshift memorial at Ricalton Square. It was their safe space on their terms, but we sat TOGETHER in a circle, mostly in silence, we hugged, cried, prayed – afterward messages of love and hope were sent into the beautiful blue sky over Maplewood on white balloons. (Pics do not include images of Au pairs for their safety.)

The memorial will remain in Ricalton Square for a few days. Please take a moment to stop by and express your support, either by a message on the flag pole or with flowers.

While the investigation continues and so that these crimes are successfully prosecuted, please refrain from gossip and speculation online, it’s also disrespectful to the victims and their families. As already reported, this was an isolated incident, the suspect has been apprehended and charged, there is no pending threat to the community – at this moment, that’s all we need to know or focus on. Allow the families to grieve and organize memorial services. Please do not tag us asking questions about the investigation or about how the crimes were committed – we will not answer those questions at this time.

Finally, do not weaponize this tragedy against undocumented or any immigrant workers in our beloved community, whether Au pairs in our homes or elsewhere. We are ONE. There is no one to fear here – we ALL belong here.

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