Protesters march against Boca Raton pentagram

BOCA RATON, Fla. -
 
It caused an uproar when it showed up last week and on Tuesday, religious groups took to the streets in protest demanding it be taken down immediately.
 
The display, which has a permit, is one of several symbols of religion located at Sanborn Square on Federal Highway. However, members of the community say it is offensive and harmful, prompting them to march in support of Christianity.
 
The mayor of Boca Raton has condemned the display, but says the group has the right since the square is a designated free-speech zone.
 
"The people are very unhappy about this," said Rev. Mark Boykin, a pastor at the Church of All Nations who led Tuesday's prayer rally. "This says to all of America and the world that Boca Raton subscribes, even supports the exercise of Satanic rituals."
 
The protesters started at the Church of All Nations and marched two miles to Sanborn Square, chanting prayers and singing Christmas carols. Some protesters were even armed with bibles and holy water as they approached the pentagram and encircled the display in prayer.
 
"We say no to the forces of darkness!" said one protester through a megaphone.
 
The display, which stands in between a nativity scene and a Christmas tree, was set up by an organization called Freedom From Religion Foundation.
 
Local member Preston Smith got the permits to display it in Sanborn Square. In a statement last week, Smith said in part, "Love trumps hate. The First Amendment must be protected, including the freedom to offend."
 
Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Rebecca Markert said that the prayer march and rally was a prime example of the freedom of speech in action.
 
"Those protesters are exercising their rights, just as Freedom from Religion Foundation is expressing their right in erecting these displays," she said.
 
Markert said FFRF suggests that the city of Boca Raton reconsider public and unattended displays in Sanborn Square. After the pentagram and a winter solstice banner were installed last week, vandals covered the displays with silver spray paint
 
"The situation in Boca Raton shows the divisiveness that having religious symbols on the property causes and it would be the wisest course for the city just to shut down the square for public displays all together," Markert said.
 
Markert said there many cities in the country that have implemented similar restrictions.
 
Boca Raton mayor Susan Haynie said because of the first amendment's freedom of speech, the display must remain.
 
"That allows us to express our religious beliefs and worship in America, but unfortunately provides for this type of symbol," she said in interview with WPTV last week.
 
The mayor or council members could not be reached for follow up comment on Tuesday.
 
Despite the law, protesters want it gone.
 
"Take that horrible pentagram down. We don't want that in our city," said Boykin.

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