BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – There's a Christmas controversy surrounding a normally peaceful park in Boca Raton. A large metal Satanic pentagram was pulled down by vandals early Tuesday morning and ripped out of the ground.
The controversial pentagram was originally erected, with the proper permits, by a protesting Atheist in Sanborn Square which is a dedicated Free Expression zone. Preston Smith, a Boca Raton teacher, said he doesn't believe in God or Satan. He says he erected the Pentagram sculpture in protest because putting a religious display in a public park makes non-believers feel like "second-class citizens."
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that if a government allows one religious group to erect a display on public property, it cannot ban others.
In this case, the pentagram was put on display right next to a Nativity scene.
A lot of people were not happy that it was built.
"It's a time of joy, a time of rebirth and to see that Satanic symbol here it's offensive to so many people," said Judy Hill.
Tina Yeager agreed. "It is a very precious season and for someone to come and almost make fun of that, to just really negate the time of year, it's inappropriate."
Boca Raton police officer Sandra Boonenberg said the vandals tied a chain from a vehicle to the 300-pound sculpture and pulled it down, cracking its frame. Tire marks leading from the Satanic sculpture remained clearly visible. Earlier in the day, someone spray painted over a sign on it that reads, "In Satan we trust."
Lisa Clark does not like the Pentagram. "I know it might be against the law, I know it might not be right but I commend the people that take it down because it's a sign of evil in our city."
Not everyone sees it as a slam against Christmas. A woman and a teenager, who didn't want to give their names, came to hoist it back up again. They go to a Unitarian church and believe everyone has a right to express themselves.
"I thought what if they would have done that to the menorah or the nativity scene? That would have hurt a lot of people so let him speak. Turn your head if you don't like it," said the woman.
The Pentagram did not stay standing long. Someone came by shortly afterwards and knocked it down again.
"I flipped it back over just because there's no reason for that to be standing up," said KJ Clark who cut himself toppling it over again. He does not like where it's on display.
"What about the people who say there's freedom of speech?" asked CBS4's Ted Scouten. Clark replied, "That's fine, but we don't need to have that. You could say it, but you don't need to put that here. There's no reason kids walking around have to see that next to a nativity scene."
Investigators say if they catch the person who's responsible for this, they'll be facing at least a criminal mischief charge. If you have any information that can help investigators, call Boca Raton police.
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