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Mt. Davidson Trial -- Day 1

by Jim Heldberg

A cold and windy June 1st couldn't keep San Francisco Atheists from holding a successful rally outside the federal courthouse today, to support the trial against the Mt. Davidson cross by Dave Kong and John Messina.

Atheists from all over the SF Bay Area spent their lunch hour carrying signs outside the Federal Courthouse. We urged the City to support the US and California constitutions, and remove the huge cross from San Francisco's highest public park.

ABC's KGO-TV (Channel 7) and the San Francisco Examiner newspaper covered the rally. Public reaction was mixed, as usual.

Building security officers and Federal Security Service police were cooperative, too. It always helps when we are well-prepared, orderly and peaceful.

Following the lunch hour demonstration, most of us went up to the 17th floor to observe the actual trial. Dave Kong and John Messina were seated to the judge's right, with their two lawyers. John Messina took the witness stand. The City's attorney tried unsuccessfully to impeach John's prior deposition, by attacking a minor inconsistency in the number of phone calls he made many months ago. ("On page 246, it says you made 1 call to the Mayor's office, but on page 247, it says you made 2 calls.") Judge Maxine Chesney, a young curly-haired blond charmer, wasn't buying any of it. She said this time-wasting foolishness had nothing to do with the cross, and she hoped the City's counsel would have something more relevant to say tomorrow. She adjourned court for the day.

The trial is expected to last all week.

We felt we accomplished our goal of raising public awareness of the trial. Participants included Els Boesten, Pirate Black, Burt Bogardus, Ski Grabowski, Dick Hewetson, Jim Hicks, Tyson Gustus, John Jennings, Sidney Kass, John McCoy, Tom Maley, Ray Romano and Jim Heldberg.

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