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Monument to get attention on Memorial Day

May 24, 2012

WOONSOCKET — The monument at the center of a simmering feud between the city and a Wisconsin atheist group will get some special attention on Memorial Day.
There will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Place Jolicoeur, the first holiday rite of its kind at the site of the monument in recent memory.
Led by Mayor Leo T. Fontaine and members of the United Veterans Council, the ceremony will take place at noon, after the Memorial Day Parade.
City officials and other participants normally pay their respects to war monuments that are located along the route of the parade, which begins at Cumberland and Clinton streets at 10 a.m. Place Jolicoeur is so far off the beaten path, however, that it’s long been overlooked on the roster of Memorial Day stops.
It never used to be that way, at least not before 1955, when a massive hurricane toppled the Hamlet Avenue Bridge. During the reconstruction, the bridge was dramatically realigned, and Place Jolicoeur, which used to be in the middle of a public thoroughfare, landed in the parking lot of Woonsocket’s main fire station on Cumberland Hill Road. It’s a spot that’s easy to miss because it’s slightly below grade as the lot slopes toward the abutting Blackstone River.
Still, the long-neglected stone marker topped by a distinctive white cross became the focus of a controversial complaint lodged against the city by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Asserting that the cross is a religious symbol on public property, the FFRF told Fontaine that it views the marker as a violation of the constitutional prohibition on the intermingling of church and state. In an April 13 letter to Fontaine, the FFRF’s lawyers asked Fontaine to promptly submit a plan to rectify the violation, suggesting that the cross be removed.
FRFF said the complaint was prompted by an individual who sees the monument regularly and is offended by it. The organization declined to identify the person.
The dispute prompted an outcry of support for the city, culminating in a rally at Place Jolicoeur several weeks ago. At the rally, the city made it plain that it has no intentions of removing the cross, announcing that it had established a defense fund for a possible legal showdown with the FFRF.
So far, the city has given the FFRF no formal response to the national nonprofit’s call for the removal of the cross. But the city is the process of drafting one and will probably make a formal announcement next week, acccording to the mayor.
“We are still in the process of developing a legal response,” Fontaine said. “There’s a lot of research being done.”
Meanwhile, the city has raised well over $15,000 for the defense fund from donors near and far. Richard Fagnant, who runs a silk-screening business, this week handed the mayor a check for $500, money he raised from the sale of pro-monument T-shirts. Pepin Lumber has raised some $2,000 from the sale of wooden replicas of the disputed cross, items residents are displaying on their lawns across the city in a show of support for the cause.
The monument was originally erected a tribute to William Jolicoeur, a soldier with the American Expeditionary Forces who was killed in France during World War I. It was later rededicated in 1952 in memory of three brothers, Alexandre, Henri and Louis Gagne, all killed in World War II.

Comments

Pepin Lumber / Richard Fagnant Woonsocket Cross

May 27, 2012 by Robert Allard (not verified), 2 years 6 weeks ago
Comment: 1346

It gives me great pleasure and pride to say I once lived in Woonsocket & vicinity, after hearing and reading of all the good people back there who are standing up and being counted for their religious belief's. Congratulations are in order for the Pepin Lumber Co. family for their mass-production of christian crosses for the legal defense fund. Congratulations are also in order for Richard Fagnant For the production of T shirts for this cause, and his effort to aid the defense fund. I have a suggestion that may save Woonsocket and residents a lot of headaches as well as cash. As follows: The City of Woonsocket could possibly donate that portion of land that the cross is displayed on, to a church, or sell it for one dollar, therefor it would no longer be considered public property. Thank you, God bless you all & GOD BLESS AMERICA.

Move the cross, using the $15,000

May 27, 2012 by GodVlogger - on YouTube (not verified), 2 years 6 weeks ago
Comment: 1344

While $15,000 will not pay even 10-percent of the cost of the lawsuit to defend the illegal cross.....

$15,000 would be LOTS of money to spend on a beautiful display of the cross on some non-government property.

Damn, for $15,000 it could be the best, most amazing display in Rhode Island....

OR... instead you could waste the money (and about a half-million dollars more) trying to defend the illegal cross, only to lose in the end.

Will the local politicians be brave enough to do what is correct and fiscally responsible for their city, or will they cave in to all the hoopla and religious fervor while taking their city finances further down the tubes???

~~ GodVlogger (on YouTube)

ILLEGAL cross will cost LOTS of money

May 27, 2012 by GodVlogger - on YouTube (not verified), 2 years 6 weeks ago
Comment: 1343

$15,000 is merely a drop in the bucket of what it will cost to defend the ILLEGAL cross.

These cases cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes into the low millions of dollars depending how far you hang in there, only to end up paying not only your own legal fees but ALSO the fees of the atheist group that wins the lawsuit against you.

Meanwhile, the groups that promise money or free legal help often end up bailing out once it gets to court and they realize that they can not win a case of defending something that is illegal.

The town can run all the bake sales it wants to raise a few pennies here and there, but in the end the WISE thing to do will be to find a way to move the cross to a respectable and even more prominent location (saves face for the town) that is NOT on government property (thus it will no longer be illegal and the town will not waste the money).

$15,000 to defend cross monument

May 24, 2012 by Chris Allen (not verified), 2 years 6 weeks ago
Comment: 1331

Woonsocket will need a lot more money to take this to court. Utah just lost its case to keep its memorial cross monuments on public property. The U.S. Supreme court ordered the crosses removed and ordered Utah to pay nearly $400,000 in court costs. See http://tinyurl.com/77r9qxq. Even if Woonsocket gets "free" legal support from the Liberty Counsel or the ACLJ, those organizations will not pay those assessed court costs if Woonsocket loses.

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