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An updated design of the proposed veterans memorial Lake Elsinore city officials want to put at The Diamond stadium.
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BY MICHAEL J. WILLIAMS October 01, 2013; 06:09 PM
The fate of Lake Elsinore’s proposed veterans memorial hinges on a trial that started Tuesday, Oct. 1, in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles.
Lake Elsinore City Councilman Brian Tisdale said the judge conducting the trial took testimony from witnesses, including current and former council members who voted for the monument. The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday in the Central California division of the U.S. District Court.
Lake Elsinore residents John Larsen and Diane Hansen as well as the American Humanist Association sued the city May 30 to stop officials from going forward with the planned monument.
The plaintiffs contend the memorial would violate separation of church and state because the proposed design for the black granite display includes Christian crosses and Stars of David and it would be placed on public property.
City Council members approved the design late last year after several highly emotional public meetings over the design. They agreed to have the memorial erected in front of the city-owned minor league baseball stadium.
The Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the city in the case, unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed. Institute attorneys contend the design, which features a soldier kneeling in a burial ground, is a historical representation and does not espouse religion.
Larsen said Tuesday that he expects the case to take at least two days.
Tisdale, a former U.S. Marine, was mayor when the council approved the memorial and he headed the design committee. He said he remains in full support of the memorial.
“We’re a city that’s 125 years old and … we don’t have any means whatsoever of honoring our vets,” he said. “I feel strongly that we need a monument to honor our vets and we believe the design that we did is a good design.”