Police: IED detonated at embattled war memorial

Police: IED detonated at embattled war memorial

COOS BAY, Ore. - Someone detonated an improvised explosive device at a war memorial overnight, the Coos Bay Police Department.

The Vietnam Memorial featuring a cross came under criticism from a group opposed to religious symbols on public property.

The memorial has since been vandalized by people both in favor of and against keeping the memorial.

The explosion prompted the City of Coos Bay to delay an upcoming meeting regarding the memorial.

Police said Friday that parks personnel reported "criminal mischief" at the memorial, possibly from an IED.

Oregon State Police explosive specialists responded the park from their Central Point office to investigate, police said.

North Coos 911 received several reports of a loud noise in the area of Coos Bay City Hall and Mingus Park, according to police. Police officers responded to that area at the time and were unable to find anyone in the area or anything out of ordinary.

Parks employees reported the criminal mischief just before 9 a.m. Friday morning.

Police ask anyone with information on the explosion or who may have seen anything suspicious in the Mingus Park area between 11 p.m. Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday to call the Coos Bay Police Department at 541-269-8911 or Coos Stop Crime at 541-267-6666.

Press release from the City of Coos Bay

The 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.  In addition, as these types of senseless acts only serve to aggravate a highly emotionally charged issue, the Council will wait a few weeks before discussing the status of the memorial.  
 
Background 

The memorial was donated and placed in the park in 1972 by Western Bank and the Bay Area Jaycees.

On October 19, 2010, Landy Marshall a former member of the Bay Area Jaycees who helped construct and install the memorial appeared before the City Council and requested that the City rehabilitate the memorial as the finish had deteriorated over the years due exposure to the weather.
During the summer of 2011, city staff attempted to clean the memorial by pressure washing it.

When the pressure washing failed to make any visible improvements, the City contracted with a local firm to rejuvenate the monument by pressure grouting a thin layer of grout over its exterior.

On February 7, 2013, the City received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation requesting the removal of the memorial as they believe its shape, a cross, is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. 

In response, the Council held a meeting on April 2, 2013 for the purpose of obtaining public comments. 

The Council also invited the public to submit written comments on the matter. 

In addition, the City of Coos Bay retained the services of constitutional attorneys from the Liberty Institute to assess the constitutionality of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Mingus Park and to advise the City Council on its options regarding the memorial. 

As the issue is a matter of potential litigation, the results of the assessment was provided to the Council during a past executive session.

In addition to the letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the City also received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union also requesting removal of the memorial.

Sometime late last night (August 22nd / 23rd) an unknown person(s) vandalized the memorial with an improvised explosive device. 

The Coos Bay Police Department encourages anyone with information on the incident or who may have seen anything suspicious in Mingus Park area between 11:00 pm on 08/22/13 and 1:00 am on 08/23/13 to please call the Coos Bay Police Department at 541-269-8911 or Coos Stop Crime at 541-267-6666.