A veterans memorial in Minnesota lost one cross but gained more than a dozen others -- and a security detail -- over the weekend after supporters argued that the city caved to the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The memorial at Belle Plaine Veterans Memorial Park showed a silhouette of a soldier kneeling in front of a cross that served as a headstone for a fellow soldier's grave, Fox 9 reported. Workers installed it last summer, but opponents were quick to argue that it violated the separation of church and state because it appeared on public property.
The city and its veterans club reportedly agreed to get rid of the cross last week. Still, supporters of veterans said they were outraged.
"It’s just frustrating to see that one person or two people in a town are allowed to speak for a town of over 3,000 people," Katie Novotny said. She reportedly started a movement to fight back by displaying crosses in front yards and at nearby businesses.
By Sunday, more than 18 wooden crosses also appeared at the park. So did the Second Brigade Motorcycle Club, a team that arrived after a call from one member of the Patriot Guard Riders.
The bikers vowed they would stay put to protect the memorial and crosses from vandalism.
"It’s another attack on small town America -- our freedoms,” Belle Plaine Mayor Christopher Meyer told KARE. Still, he said his city had no choice but to remove the cross.
Belle Plaine is a 45-minute drive southwest of Minneapolis.