Memorial of soldier with cross removed in Belle Plaine, had sparked debate over free speech

Protesters kneel to pray during a rally against a future satanic monument.
Protesters kneel to pray the rosary and sing during a rally against a future satanic monument.
Hannah Kangas | MPR News

Hundreds of people gathered in Veterans Memorial Park in Belle Plaine Saturday to protest the possible addition of a satanic monument.

The debate over whether the monument should be included in the park has brought national attention to Belle Plaine.

Another monument in the park of a soldier kneeling by a cross initially sparked a debate over the role religion should play in memorials.

Before Saturday's protest, the soldier's memorial was removed from the park. But its earlier presence had resulted in the city creating a new public space in the park for monuments honoring veterans.

A Massachusetts group pushed for a future satanic monument to be included in the space to represent non-religious service members.

Nicholas Kaminski helped organize the protest against its inclusion.

"I don't see a monument with a cross on it as being problematic 'cause it represents something that is good as opposed to something evil like a monument to satan," said Kaminski.

The protest came just as the controversy may be coming to an end.

On Monday, city council members are scheduled to take up a resolution to do away with the public forum area, and likely both monuments.

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