Reporting Ron Kilgore
SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A fight between religious and atheist groups over Nativity displays in a Westside park may take another twist this holiday season.
KNX 1070′s Ron Kilgore reports the battle to restore the Christmas spirit to Santa Monica is headed to federal court.
Attorney William J. Becker Jr., who represents the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes committee, filed suit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday and called for the city to restore the nearly 60 year-old tradition.
“The city violated the First Amendment by denying religious speech in the park, which is a traditional public forum, so the complain seeks an order from the court declaring the city’s actions to be unconstitutional,” Becker said.
The controversy began in December of 2010 after the group comprised of 13 churches and the Santa Monica Police Officers Association were prevented from erecting all but three of 21 total dioramas in Palisades Park depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.
In June, the Santa Monica City Council voted to prohibit any private displays in the park overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Pier after atheist groups complained of religious displays on public property.
Becker is also seeking an temporary injuction on behalf of the committee to allow Nativity scenes this Christmas.