Police say an unknown individual detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) near an embattled Oregon war memorial cross late Thursday night.
The cross, which a prominent atheist group wants removed from the public park in Coos Bay, Oregon, sustained minor damage during the explosion that police say occurred in the late hours of Thursday night or early Friday morning.
"Sometime late last night (August 22nd / 23rd) an unknown person(s) vandalized the memorial with an improvised explosive device," said a statement released by the city government on Friday.
According to police, multiple callers dialed 911 to report a loud boom near city hall around midnight. Additionally, they reportedly say park workers notified the department of criminal mischief at the memorial that morning.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union have both submitted formal requests to the city government requesting the war memorial — donated to the city in 1972 — be removed, alleging its shape, a cross, is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.
As a result of the vandalism, the city says an "August 27th special meeting of the Coos Bay City Council regarding the status of the Vietnam War Memorial in Mingus Park had been postponed."
"While a new date has not been determined, we want to give law enforcement time to investigate the most recent incident of criminal mischief at the site of the memorial," read the statement.
It added that "these types of senseless acts only serve to aggravate a highly emotionally charged issue."
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