Cross monument removed in a California town after five decades
The city of Albany, California, started a bench trial in a U.S. district court on Tuesday in order to acquire the Lions Club's easement, which has been used to access the cross.
The 28-foot metal-and-plexiglass cross, which was erected on Albany Hill in 1970, represented a crucial pillar of hope for local Christians. They lit it up every Easter and Christmas since its construction. The Lions Club was granted an easement after community leaders sold 1.1 acres of land to the city and turned it into a public park with the cross monument built on it.
However, East Bay Atheists launched an attack in 2015, challenging the cross’s constitutionality. Peggy McQuaid, the Mayor of Albany also criticized Lions Club for lighting up the cross for a 9/11 anniversary in 2017: “I want to reiterate that neither the City Council nor the City of Albany endorses in any way the lighting of the cross for any occasion, religious or nationalistic, or supports its continued presence on public property”.
A judge ruled that the cross violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution in 2018. The verdict forced the city to either sell the ground where the cross had been built to a private owner, or acquire the easement through eminent domain and remove the cross.
Even though Lions Club offered to buy the plot, the city council voted against it last year. They removed the cross from the property and placed it in storage on the 8th of June 2023.