SAN FRANCISCO–It was discovered on Sunday, September 23rd, that the memorial plaque at the foot of San Francisco’s 103-ft. Mt. Davidson Cross has been stolen. The bronze plaque, which is 3-ft by 4-ft and weighs 160 pounds, was bolted into a concrete base.
The San Francisco Police Department is investigating. Captain Denis O’Leary of the Ingleside station said, "This is a very serious matter. We are considering all possibilities." Noting that the discovery was made on the day when Armenian-Americans were celebrating Armenian Independence Day, O’Leary said they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a hate crime. O’Leary said that considering the recycling value of the plaque, the department has also sent out a message and photos to all the metal recycling plants in the Bay Area, and an additional flyer to police departmen’s throughout California.
The plaque reads:
The Mt. Davidson Cross was designed and built by George Kelham and inaugurated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934. In 1997, the citizens of San Francisco voted to approve the sale of the monument to the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California, to preserve it as a historic landmark.
This revered site is cared for in memory of the 1,500,000 victims of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government between 1915 and 1923. Over half of the Armenian population on its ancient homeland was killed, and no Armenian community remained in historical western Armenia.
The monument has inscribed on it a poem–in Armenian and English–by the Armenian writer and educator Avedis Aharonian (1866-1948, which reads: “If evil of this magnitude can be ignored, if our own children forget then we deserve oblivion and earn the world’s scorn.”
The plaque was installed after a decade-long legal and political battle over the constitutionality of the presence of a cross in a public park. The case was resolved when the city of San Francisco auctioned the property to private ownership. The Council of Armenian American Organizations of Northern California (CAAONC) won the auction and voters approved the sale of the property in 1997, despite opposition from atheists who opposed the presence of the cross and Turkish groups who opposed the sale to Armenian-Americans who planned to use the site for annual Armenian Genocide commemorations. Mt. Davidson Park and the cross have remained open to the public.
After a memorial plaque was installed, Turkish-American groups sued
CAAONC, claiming the plaque violated the terms of the property deed. The court case against the placement of the plaque was dismissed in 2004. Turkish government representatives are currently waging a similar effort to block a pending congressional resolution, House Resolution 106, which re-affirms the U.S. historical record on the Armenian Genocide. The Turkish government has also actively opposed U.S. state laws mandating public education about the Armenian Genocide. In Turkey, discussion of the Armenian Genocide is a crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The overwhelming majority of Armenian-Americans living in San Francisco are descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. Several of the survivors were present at the unveiling of the plaque at the foot of Mt. Davidson Cross, in 1998.
For more information, please call: Bay Area Armenian National Committee at (415) 387-3433 or The Council of Armenian American Organizations of Northern California Vice Chair, Anto Cingoz, office: 510-843-8454: home: 510-524-6967