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Lawrence honors 144 victims of COVID-19 with memorial of empty chairs

The city of Lawrence is honoring victims of COVID-19 with a memorial of empty chairs across the street from City Hall.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Lawrence wants to ensure that victims of the pandemic are not forgotten. On Thursday, the city announced a memorial featuring lines of empty chairs — one for each resident who has died from COVID-19.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera tweeted out photos of the 144 empty chairs that were assembled across the street from City Hall, in Campagnone Common park. Rivera said he was inspired by a larger national memorial in Washington, D.C., that featured 20,000 empty chairs, with each representing 10 people in the United States who died from the virus.

“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,” Rivera tweeted. “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,” the mayor continued. "We have to wear our masks, stay home when we’re sick, avoid large gatherings, quarantine when required & get tested when we aren’t sure. It is time for us to make it a personal responsibility to stop the spread, until we do we will keep adding chairs.”

The empty chair memorial will remain in place as a stark visual reminder of the toll that the coronavirus has taken and continues to take on Lawrence, one of the dozens of municipalities the state has designated as high-risk communities.

“As for a timeframe,” said the mayor’s chief of staff, Kate Reilly, “the chairs will remain there for the foreseeable future.”

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.