RI group wants Mayor Taveras to remove cross on Providence median
by James Swierzbin
There's another cross controversy in Rhode Island.
This time a group led by the Steve Ahlquist, the uncle of teen atheist Jessica Ahlquist, sent a letter to Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, asking that the cross be removed.
Peter Montaquila and his son put the cross up a few weeks ago, on a grassy median across from his car wash, on Pleasant Valley Parkway in Providence.
Montaquila has taken care of the median for over two-decades, he says the cross is meant to honor veterans, and he doesn't think it's offensive.
"If it really offends them, you know what? Don't drive down the street, or move someplace else or get out of the state, that's how I feel."
Humanists of Rhode Island is the group that wants it taken down.
The group's president, Steve Ahlquist, sent a letter to Mayor Taveras asking him to act.
On Wednesday night ABC6 News spoke with Adam Miner, who is a member of Ahlquist's group.
He too believes that the cross, which is on a public median, should be removed.
"Separation of church and state. No religious symbol should be put on public property." said Miner.
Miner says that his group is only trying to make sure that the law is being followed correctly, and that the city, isn't endorsing one religion over another.
"We're not actively looking for illegal crosses or violations of church and state. We're not out to get you, we are out to make sure that the Constitution is followed." said Miner.
The group's outlook on this cross is different than the one they have on the cross that sits atop a veterans memorial in Woonsocket.
In that case, Humanists of Rhode Island decided not to get behind the effort to get the memorial removed, because that memorial is meant to honor specific veterans, who were Christians.
They say that the cross in Providence is a different story, because this cross, isn't for specific veterans.
"Obviously all veterans are not Christians. They're Muslims, they're Atheists, they're Hindus."
Mayor Taveras said in a statement that he doesn't have any plans to ask Peter Montaquila to remove the cross from his adopted stretch of median.
If it stays where it is Humanists of Rhode Island say that they plan on adding their own symbols to the display in the median.
"We don't see any problem with putting one up right there if they're going to allow that one to remain." said Miner.
Peter Montaquila says that if he is forced to remove the cross, he plans on simply moving it a few hundred feet onto his own property, and won't stop displaying it.
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