Prayer Banner at Cranston West Covered

           A dark colored sheet now covers the Cranston West High School Prayer Banner.  After a federal judge's ruling to have it taken down immediately. Siding with the atheist teenager who called its religious reference “offensive”.  This morning, the ACLU sat by the teen at a press conference announcing their win.

           16-year-old Jessica Ahlquist says she's relieved judge Lagueux ruled in her favor, stating in his 40 page order that “no amount of debate can make the school prayer anything other than a prayer.”

            But members of the Cranston School Committee and other students are standing firm that this banner is historic, and they aren't ready to see a piece of their history removed.

            Jessica Ahlquist looks back at the year and a half that the prayer banner controversy dragged on, and with it, came threats and harassment from other students.

           “It was definitely all worth it,” said Ahlquist.

            It was worth it because of the judge's ruling. The mural that's been pasted on the auditorium wall at Cranston West since 1963, must come down.

            Ahlquist said in a press conference Thursday morning, “it's not something that belongs in a school when I saw it there I knew it had to come down.”

             Ahlquist's father, her attorney Lynette Labinger, , and ACLU's executive director describe Ahlquist as a courageous young woman for taking on this battle.

             ACLU's executive director said, “keeping the government out of religion because it ends up trivializing, denigrating, and demeaning religion and we saw that in this case.”

             The win was a shock for Cranston School Committee member Frank Lombardi. Lombardi says Cranston schools are embedded in tradition, and this banner is a big part of Cranston West's history.

             “We were certainly confident that we would win and I was very disappointed by the decision,” said Lombardi.

              Some seniors at Cranston West say they didn't even notice the banner before all this.

              Senior Caroline DeCataldo says, “I was talking to my friends about it at lunch today and like a lot of people just haven't noticed it, like no one noticed it until someone said something about it being awful.”

               Student council president Patrick McAssey says, “I was angry because out of the 50 plus thousand people that have gone to this school, only one took offense to it, and so were going based on a less than a quarter percent basically.”

                Frank Lombardi says the school committee will meet with their attorney, Joe Cavanagh, on whether appealing this ruling is in their best interest, considering they'll have to pay the ACLU's legal fees.

               Cavanagh told me if they decide to appeal, he would represent Cranston for free, again. They have thirty days to make that decision.