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Mother outraged after son’s roadside memorial is removed in Norman

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NORMAN, Okla. - A roadside memorial was removed by the city of Norman.

Right now, family and friends of the former Norman North student are asking for it to be brought back.

Idong Mbong’s bright smile is what friends and family thought of while driving by his cross, decorated with flowers.

“He smiled about everything, and he always had a good time and that's what he was doing the day he perished,” said his friend, Derek Morton.

Idong, 23, was on his motorcycle when he and a driver collided near S.E. 24th and Tahoe Drive.

Since his death, hundreds of people have stopped by his memorial.

“It give me some peace. It give me some relief,” said his mother.

“Instead of going to a cemetery, we can come out here and feel like we're with him and talk to him,” Morton said.

It was a healing sight pulled from the ground.

“I just felt retraumatized,” said Ukpe Mbong, Idong’s mother. “I really feel like it's a dishonor for them remove that cross.”

City officials said it was removed after several complaints.

“We had many other citizens call and say 'This is really a concern of mine. I'm tired of seeing this. I get sad every time I go into my neighborhood,'” said Shawn O'Leary, Norman’s Director of Public Works.

O’Leary said the roadside memorial was also a distraction to drivers and violated the law.

“It's a separation of church and state. So, if there's a religions element to this memorial, that's not appropriate to be out in the public right of way,” O'Leary explained.

The family said it was a sign of faith meant to remember a life cut short.

“It was a cross and, for us, that doesn't symbolize death. That symbolizes hope, salvation and to know our brother's in heaven somewhere having a good time and he's no longer hurting,” Morton said.

The city of Norman said it is working to make a more clear policy for roadside memorials and when they should be removed.

Idong’s family is working to create a petition to get his cross put back up.