Where Shaniya Was Found Is Now An Impromptu Memorial Site
In the dearth of information regarding the progress of Shaniya Davis’ murder investigation comes word that the location where her body was found dumped along with deer carcasses has become a makeshift memorial area. It has simply grown and flourished since her burial. And there is not only one site, but two.
The two makeshift shrines have been set up on the winding, rural road just south of Carolina Trace.
Stuffed animals, at least 100 total, are piled on the ground around wooden pallets converted into rustic altars.
Heavy plastic covers most of them.
It looks more like a yard sale than a memorial.
Until you look more closely and see pictures of Shaniya and the cards and letters with her name on them.
A smiling ceramic snowman stands atop the roadside pallet. “Merry Christmas, From: Olivia Gang” is written across his belly.
A weather-beaten copy of “The Night Before Christmas” and a stuffed Grinch have been placed on the ground.
There’s a picture of three little girls, each with her hands clasped in prayer and wearing angel wings.
Beneath it are the words of Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
To the right of that is a white metal cross with a pink heart in its center and Shaniya’s picture at the top. On the back it reads: “Sanford Muffler, Fabricated and painted by Erik Donithan and Jordan Coggins.”
Some dolls have been stuffed between the boards of a pallet atop a set of table legs. A message is written across the boards: “No mosters (sic) now. Your in a safer place. You will never get hurt again. R.I.P. Shaniya. We Love You!”
It’s signed “Kayla, Danielle, Kelly and Quay’Veon.”
It’s still hard for some of the people living nearby to see the reminders, said one woman, who did not want to be identified.
A lot of the residents took part in the two-day search for Shaniya along Walker Road.
“It still breaks your heart,” the woman said. “I admire the people who put them up, and it’s touched a lot of people.”
But maybe it’s time to take them down, she said.
“Every time I go by there, I can’t help but visualize her face.”
I think that for some women, especially black women, the death of Shaniya Davis has been of great, tragic import. That her light skin and demonstrable sweetness also mean the purity and worth of their own lives at five. It is as if their own daughter, goddaughter, sister or grandchild had been raped and done to death. Or, that they feel that there is no hope of protection for black women and girls against rape and murder, even by their own. Or worse, they remember their own abuse or the abuse of other women relatives. I’m even wondering whether this is racial memory (sexual abuse during slavery) coming up for them as well.
It’s too bad that we are only able to care–and care a lot–when it is too late. Or, as one commenter put it elsewhere, how is it that all of these relatives were there at her funeral, and no one else stepped in to protect her?