MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Satanic Temple on the East Coast is seeking $35,000 in damages after a southern Minnesota city scrapped its free speech zone, effectively denying the group from erecting a monument in a veterans park.
The Jordan Independent reports that the city of Belle Plaine received a letter on Oct. 10 demanding damages, plus attorney’s fees and costs, from the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts.
The Satanic Temple had planned to erect a monument to veterans in the city’s short-lived free speech zone. It would have been the first Satanic monument on public property in U.S. history.
The city had initially allowed the monument after the creation of a free speech zone in a veterans park following a dispute between townspeople and a religious freedom group.
The dispute started a year ago after a statue with a soldier kneeling before a cross was placed in the veterans park. A watchdog group then threatened a lawsuit over the statue’s Christian imagery, objecting that it shouldn’t be allowed to stand on public land.
In response, the city created a free speech zone to allow monuments to be put up by various groups. But when the first group to propose a monument was the Satanic Temple, there was immediately concern and protests were planned.
In July, the city moved to eliminate the free speech area, thereby denying the Satanic Temple and any other monuments with religious imagery.