A 34-foot cross has stood in Pensacola’s Bayview Park for almost half a century. Now, the city has 30 days to take it down. A federal judge ruled Monday it violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Some people use it to jog, others row, walk their dogs, or exercise. Bayview Park is recognized as a place to do many things and recognized for one big thing.
“We used to come down here and my dad would launch his boat down there so the cross was always something we drove by,” said Eric Telhiard, who visits the park frequently, and was born and raised in Pensacola.
The large white cross stands tall near the boat launch for now. A U.S. District Court Judge ruled Monday the cross needs to go.
“I think it’s a waste of time, personally,” said Theodore Williams, who visits the park ever day, of the efforts to remove the cross. “If you’re nitpicking at small things like that, if it’s been here almost 50 years, let it be.”
According to court documents, the city pays an average of $233 to keep the cross clean, painted, and illuminated at night per year.
The city of Pensacola released this statement:
“We are in receipt of the order issued by Judge Vinson. We are in the process of reviewing this with counsel. However, Mayor Hayward is traveling and will ultimately be the one to decide how to proceed”- City of Pensacola Spokesperson”
An attorney representing the group of four people who initially filed the motion for summary judgment said in a news release:
“The cross was totally unavoidable to park patrons, and to have citizens foot the bill for such a religious symbol is both unfair and unconstitutional.”
One of the original plaintiffs, David Suhor, said in a phone conversation:
“It’s unfortunate that the city wasted so much taxpayer money on this case”
The judge also ordered the city to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the amount of $1.