Santa Monica bans unattended displays at Palisades Park
Citing December's dust-up between atheists and Christian groups over seasonal religious dioramas, the Santa Monica City Council has agreed to bar private, unattended displays in Palisades Park.
After hearing emotional testimony from about 30 people, the panel voted 5 to 0 Tuesday night to eliminate an exception that had allowed churches, synagogues, atheists and others to erect displays at the public park and leave them unattended.
Some council members said that, although they personally enjoyed seeing the displays, they wanted to head off increasingly rancorous confrontations over freedom of speech and religion that would cost the city time and money.
"I approached this evening truly saddened to be at this point," said Councilman Terry O'Day, who said he had taken his daughters to see the displays. "I enjoy those Nativity scenes. They're a great teaching opportunity."
He added that the hardening of feelings on both sides made it clear to him that the best way for the tradition to continue would be to shift the displays to private property.Continue reading at articles.latimes.com