Fighting Back: Pensacola Appeals Federal Order to Take Down Bayview Cross
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — The City of Pensacola is appeaing a federal judge's order to take down the historic Bayview Cross. The 76-year-old landmark was deemed 'offensive' by four people who filed a lawsuit in 2016.
Now, the City has officially appealed the ruling to remove the cross, which is one of more than 170 displays in Pensacola's many public parks. Back in June, Channel 3 News brought you information on Mayor Ashton Hayward's intent to preserve the cross.
Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel at Becket Fund, the non-profit law firm defending the City of Pensacola, issued a statement on the controversial issue.
"Pensacola has a rich history, and it shouldn't have to censor that history just because part of it is religious. This cross has been a positive symbol of unity for this community for over 75 years. One contrived lawsuit should not be allowed to tear it apart," Goodrich said.
The appeals court will now decide the fate of the Bayview Cross. Congressman Matt Gaetz issued the following statement on Becket’s recently-filed appeal to Kondrat’yev v. City of Pensacola:
Like many in Northwest Florida, I was upset at the July 3 court ruling that required the cross in Bayview Park to be taken down. The cross has brought happiness and solace to Northwest Floridians for 70 years, was donated by a private organization, and costs little to maintain — to view it as an “establishment of religion” seems absurd. I have been monitoring this case closely, and was pleased when Becket appealed, causing the ruling to be stayed. I am confident and optimistic that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will recognize that the Constitution does not require all religious symbols to be removed from public spaces. Religious freedom is a fundamental American right, and it must be protected.