Explosion at Mingus Park memorial prompts investigation

City manager says he plans to cancel public meeting regarding the controversial cross
2013-08-23T12:57:00Z Explosion at Mingus Park memorial prompts investigationBy Thomas Moriarty, The World Coos Bay World
August 23, 2013 12:57 pm  • 

COOS BAY — Coos Bay’s city manager says he plans to cancel a public meeting to discuss a contested war memorial cross in light of an explosion near the memorial Thursday night.

Roger Craddock said Friday afternoon that he plans to cancel Tuesday’s scheduled meeting at the Coos Bay Public Library regarding the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial cross. 

“This is going to aggravate an already emotional situation,” Craddock said. “Time has a healing effect.”

Police believe the incident occurred between the hours of late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

In a press release, Coos Bay Police Chief Gary McCullough said the department was notified of criminal mischief at the memorial by city parks workers that morning.

Further investigation revealed that the damage was possibly caused by an improvised explosive device.

Friday afternoon, McCullough and his officers were busy combing the scene with the help of two Oregon State Police explosives specialists from Central Point.

According to the Coos Bay police log, dispatchers were startled by a loud boom near city hall around midnight and took multiple calls from residents complaining.

The cross — donated to the city in 1972 — has been a source of considerable controversy since March, when the city announced it had received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanding its removal.

The city retained the services of the Texas-based Liberty Insitute to conduct a legal assessment of the cross’ constitutionality, but hasn’t publicly announced the results.

The scheduled Tuesday meeting was intended to provide a public discussion of the city’s remaining options for dealing with the matter.

Anyone with information regarding Thursday’s explosion, or who may have seen anything suspicious in Mingus Park between 11 p.m. Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday, is asked to call the Coos Bay Police Department at 541-269-8911 or Coos Stop Crime at 541-267-6666.

Reporter Thomas Moriarty can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or by email at thomas.moriarty@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter@ThomasDMoriarty.

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