PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) – Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general around the United States in support of the City of Pensacola and their fight to keep a historic cross on display in a public park.
A lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the American Humanist Association to take down the cross in a public park, but city officials in Pensacola have rallied around the cross since the lawsuit.
Just this week, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner saying, the cross has “become a community gathering place, an integral part of my town’s fabric, a symbol to our local citizens — religious and non-religious — of our proud history of coming together during hard times.”
On Tuesday, Marshall filed an amicus brief with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the City of Pensacola’a appeal of a lower federal court ruling that ordered the city to remove the cross from Bayview Park in Pensacola.
“The large cross in Pensacola’s Bayview Park is a local landmark dating back more than seven decades,” said Attorney General Marshall in a press release. “The cross is woven into the fabric of Pensacola’s history and its presence in a public park does not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of the establishment of religion, as opponents have claimed. To continue down the road of the lower court’s reasoning would open the door to challenges of religious symbols on thousands of monuments and memorials on public property across the country.”
In the case, Amanda Kondrat’yev v. City of Pensacola, Florida, Marshall asserts that the lower federal court ruling against the display of the cross ignores legal precedent protecting the display of historical monuments, including religious symbols, on public property.
Alabama was joined by Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah in filing the brief.
In an earlier statement, the defendants in the lawsuit said, “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.”
According to court documents, the city pays an average of $233 per year to keep the cross clean, painted, and illuminated at night.