Saving the Historical Cross – Protestors Gather to Preserve the Century-Old Cross

Jun 13, 2003 11:11 AM EDT

Los Angeles, Ca. – About 75 protestors gathered on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall to petition against the removal of a 24-foot, 91-year-old “Historic Cross,” June 7.

"I think it's important to take a stand," said Oxnard resident Mark Brandl, one of the protestors on scene.

"The cross has been here so long that it is part of our heritage. We shouldn't be removing symbols that bring people together I'd hate to see us taking all the crosses out of Arlington cemetery just because it's public land."

The cross, standing atop Grant Park has been the subject of a firestorm of debate since March, when three Ventura County residents and a San Francisco attorney charged that the public display of the cross was unconstitutional.

Stan Kohls, a retired teacher who lives in Somis, is one of the three residents fighting for removal of the 24-foot-tall cross. He has said it needs to go because it's an "advertisement for religion in a public park."

The city had not yet decided to remove the landmark.

Petitioners contended that the cross, the site of countless marriage proposals, engagements and weddings, holds great historical significance; city officials claim that some type of cross has been standing at the park since Father Junipero Serra staked the land in 1782.

“For history’s sake alone the cross should remain standing,” said one of the protestors, Audra Strickland. "Ignoring this history is to ignore the role of Father Serra here."

"The cross has been here long enough that it goes beyond religious significance. This cross is history," said Chris Coleman, of Simi Valley.

Coleman, a member of Bikers for Christ was among the dozens of leather-clad Christian bikers protesting beneath a giant "Save the Cross" banner.

The rally, organized by City Councilman Jim Monahan and others, allowed attendees to speak at a cross-engraved lectern, sign petitions to be presented to the council or make a cash donation by purchasing a golf shirt. Monahan, with the support of Councilman Neal Andrews, may hire lawyers for the case.

Andrews, a self-proclaimed Quaker — a group that supports the separation of church and state and whose members are known as pacifists — exclaimed. "Sometimes, even Quakers just have to fight.”

By Pauline J.