A massive pentagram erected in a downtown Boca Raton park was plowed over by a vehicle Monday night, marking the fourth time the display has been vandalized since it went up in early December.
Boca Raton Community Middle School teacher Preston Smith erected the 10-foot tall, 300-pound inverted pentagon in a “free speech zone” in Sanborn Square on Dec. 7 to counter a nativity scene in the park, WPTV reports.
— Andrew Ruiz WPTV (@AndrewNRuiz) December 20, 2016
But over the last few weeks the display – which also includes signs that read “In Satan we trust. One nation under Antichrist” and “May the children hail Satan”- has been the constant target of vandals who have stolen signs and spray-painted the display. On Monday night, officials found the display toppled over, with tire tracks cutting across the park and into the pentagram, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
Police told the news site they’ve responded to the park a total of eight times since Smith put up his pentagram. The display was vandalized on Dec. 12 and Dec. 16, and officers found a woman attaching a bamboo cross to it on Dec. 17.
“The woman said she was at the park for a yoga class and felt a moral obligation to attach the cross,” the Sun-Sentinel reports. “The officer removed the cross and explained to the woman that she’d need a permit to put anything on the pentagram.”
The pentagram was vandalized again on Sunday, and appeared to have been smashed with a vehicle Monday night.
Karen Slosaski, 30, was working out downtown when she came across the pentagram, on the ground with tire tracks burned into the grass.
“If you want to voice your opinion, that’s fine but there are other ways to do it without hurting public grounds,” she said.
Others honked and cheered from their vehicles as they drove by the destruction.
“I go on morning walks all the time and I was like, ‘What the heck is that?’” local Tom Beal, 44, told the Sun-Sentinel. “I came over and my girlfriend was with me and we took a picture of it like what is going on here?”
Smith has not discussed the recent damage with the media, but he has defended his actions against local parents who are calling on the school board to remove him from his teaching position.
“’May the children hail Satan’ is an artistic expression of defiance toward the Sanborn Square nativity scene, which performs an annual reenactment of predatory indoctrination in a public park targeting young children before they have critical thinking skills,” he told WPTV in a statement.
“Satan and God are clearly both fictional characters devoid of any verifiable peer-reviewed scientific evidence.”
Dozens of local residents marched against the “evil” display last week, and parents are holding a protest in front of Boca Raton Community Middle School today to demand better for their children.
“A teacher we entrust our children with should not be putting a sign like this anywhere,” parent teacher association president Kim Bremer said.
“I just don’t feel comfortable about it and I don’t agree with it,” said parent Solange Bush, who tried unsuccessfully to remove her 14-year-old son from Smith’s class.
Boca Raton school officials, meanwhile, refuse to take action against the teacher.
“We certainly can’t micro-manage what an individual does outside of the schoolhouse,” superintendent Robert Avossa told WPTV. “I am aware of the situation. This isn’t the first time this individual has participated in an activity like that. What we do is answer any questions as they come up to the school.”