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Grieving California mom takes down cross on road after group’s protest, more appear

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    March 6: Doug Johnson planted six roadside memorial crosses in place after a grieving mom was forced to remove the one she had in place. (FRANK BELLINO/The Riverside Press-Enterprise)

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    Mercedez Devaney, 24 and her father take down one of the roadside memorial crosses for her brother. (FRANK BELLINO/The Riverside Press-Enterprise)

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    Mercedez Devaney, 24, breaks down while she removes memorial crosses in place for her brother. (FRANK BELLINO/The Riverside Press-Enterprise)

A grieving California mom who, under pressure from an atheist group, went to the site where her son was killed to remove a memorial cross was met at the scene by a throng of supporters who planted crosses of their own.

"They said they have to take that one down," Doug Johnson, a Riverside resident who traveled to the site with his daughter and six home-made crosses, told The Riverside Press-Enterprise. "But they didn't say anything about putting another one up."

AnnMarie Devaney agreed to remove a 5-foot cross she put up on the side of a road in Lake Elsinore to honor her 19-year-old son Anthony, who was struck by a car and killed two years ago, the paper reported. The American Humanist Association in Washington, D.C., caught wind of the cross and sent her a demand letter dated March 4 calling for her to remove it. The association said that its placement on city property violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

"It's so petty and sad that they have to complain over removing a cross"

- AnnMarie Devaney

"It's so petty and sad that they have to complain over removing a cross," she said. "It's his personal preference that he was Christian. What's wrong with having a cross up?"

Devaney was emotional when she was at the site and said she was moved by her supporters. She was joined by her family and other families that brought their own cross. A woman in attendance told the paper that she is the stepmother of the driver struck Devaney's son as he crossed Lake Street near an exit ramp, the paper reported.

The association reportedly just got a judge to agree to block the installation of a monument outside Diamond Stadium in the same town, which is southeast of Los Angeles. It depicted a soldier kneeling before a cross-topped grave.

Click for more from The Riverside Press-Enterprise 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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