Vol. 21 No. 9 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
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Las Cruces, New Mexico: An American Third World
By Paul F. Weinbaum
A lot of different things can be said of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe advertises itself as "The City Different." Our city has earned the title, "The City Belligerent!"
There is general agreement that the name "Las Cruces" (the crosses) could be derived from the graves alongside the Camino Real in the early 1800s before the city was founded in 1848. But the name could also derive from the fact that Las Cruces (the crossroads) lies at the crossroads of various trails, a river, and highways. What is not agreed upon is why the three crosses of Calvary represent the people and the city, according to a secret cabal in the city government.
The city cannot provide one historical document that would substantiate its claim. The use of the three crosses first appeared in the banner of the only local daily newspaper, the Las Cruces Sun-News, on March 10, 1970. (On January 1, 2003, the Sun-News removed the crosses.)
On February 12, 1970, the city of Las Cruces first used the sunburst with the three crosses of Calvary in an advertisement in the local weekly newspaper, The Bulletin.
The local police were photographed on February 26, 1970, with three crosses on their shoulder patch. Now they wear two shoulder patches, right and left, while riding in their vehicles, which sport crosses on both doors and on both sides of the rear window. (The last pictures of police wearing crosses that I can recall were Nazis.)
In the past four years, the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce changed its logo, a sun coming over the mountains, to the sun shining on the three crosses of Calvary. The chamber has been very active in promoting the three crosses of Calvary by sending the phony stories throughout the known world. Since the Chamber of Commerce is private, we have been unable to get them to listen.
In 2002, the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department installed three large, yellow and blue sunbursts with the stacked Latin crosses of Calvary at two new highway projects--an overpass and an interchange. I complained to the department on my own and it finally agreed to remove them. Then the pandering new governor, Bill Richardson, ordered the department not to remove the crosses.
When the city built a new children's playground, three crosses were placed on the entrance sign. In the playground is a playhouse replica of a Catholic church torn down years before during urban renewal. Fortunately, they left off the steeple crosses.
The city also built a skate park and, literally, in the night, a city worker welded a half-inch steel plate with sunbursts/crosses of Calvary on the metal bar fence.
The city has been frantic in their marking of every piece of public property they can find. All city vehicles have the sunburst/crosses on both doors. Every piece of paper used by the city is so marked. All the doors in City Hall have their own crosses, even the toilets.
Not to be outdone, the Las Cruces Public Schools decided to purchase stylized artwork with three crosses of Calvary for the new District Sports Complex. Then, suddenly appearing on the doors of the district maintenance vehicles were the sunburst/crosses the city said is the new logo.
The city started trying to copyright the sunburst/crosses. I mailed a protest to the US Patent Office/Copyright Division with documents, but never heard from them, and don't know the status, as the city couldn't find the paperwork.
In September 2003, Jesse Chavez and I could take it no longer. We were tired of writing letters, literally hundreds, to every person and organization we thought might listen. We filed a federal pro se lawsuit against the school district with three demands:
1. Remove the artwork from the Sports Complex and reimburse the taxpayers the $16,350 it cost. (This was purchased with New Mexico state funds. One percent of construction funds are withheld from projects for landscaping/art/decorations.)
2. Remove the crosses from the maintenance vehicles.
3. Rewrite a policy pertaining to religion in the schools.
November 2004 Excerpts