A cross that has stood on Del Monte Beach in Monterey, California since 1969 has been cut down and left in the sand. The cross has been part of an ongoing dispute between the city and the local chapter of the ACLU, who see it as a violation of the establishment clause. The city contends that it is a historic marker, and not a religious symbol.
The cross was erected in 1969 in celebration of the city’s 200th anniversary, in the spot where Don Gaspar de Portola erected a wooden cross in 1769 as a beacon to a resupply ship from Mexico that was lost at sea.
At least three law firms have offered to represent the city in an legal challenges, should Monterey decide to restore the cross. Deborah Mail, the City Attorney, says she has been talking with the Pacific Justice Institute, which has offered free legal representation.
The situation with the Monterey cross differs from the cross at issue in Salazar v Buono, argued recently before the Supreme Court, because the cross in Monterey still sits on public lands. However if the Court sides with the government in Salazar, it provides a possible solution for the city in this case.