COOS BAY — A contested war memorial cross in Mingus Park has apparently become the target of vandals.
Sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning, persons unknown wrote the word “remove” on the intersection of the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial cross’ main beams, and drew perforation marks at its base. An arrow topped with the word “cut” points to the dotted line.
Capt. Chris Chapanar of Coos Bay police said the department first received a report at 10:30 a.m. An officer went to the scene to take photos and file a report, but Chapanar said the department has no suspects at this time. “It’s basically a pending investigation,” he said.
The graffiti was removed from the cross by Tuesday morning.
The cross, which tops a memorial first installed in 1972, has been at the center of a legal and cultural battle since the city received a letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation in February. The group, which opposes religious symbolism on public property, claims the cross is unconstitutional and wants it removed.
Following a packed public meeting at the Coos Bay Public Library in March, the city retained the services of the Texas-based Liberty Institute to conduct a legal assessment of the memorial. The institute is a conservative advocacy group with a history of defending war memorials with religious symbols.
City Manager Roger Craddock said the city hopes to have the results of the assessment in hand by the end of May.
Reporter Thomas Moriarty can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or by email at thomas.moriarty @theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty.