SANTA ANA, CA (August 1, 2019) – At approximately 8:00 a.m. this morning, the Orange County Cemetery District removed the 10,000 pound 9 foot high granite structure that was placed in the Santa Ana Cemetery by the Sons of the Confederacy. This was scheduled with very little notice because the District had to work around scheduled funeral services (which naturally also occur with very little notice) so as not to cause any disruption to any services.
The District had demanded that the purported owners of the structure remove the structure from the public cemetery grounds by early February 2019 which they failed to do. It was important to have the structure immediately removed since it occupied the space over several cemetery plots that the Santa Ana Cemetery has a shortage of for families who want traditional in-ground burials for their departed loved ones for religious and/or cultural purposes. The District’s demand was met with absolute silence in that no response was received from the purported owners to the
District’s demand. The first time the District received any contact from a representative of the purported owners was a few weeks after it was reported on the internet that the structure was severely vandalized – six months after the District’s final demand was dispatched to the purported
The structure which was found vandalized on the morning of Sunday, July 7, 2019, with red paint and the word “RACISTS” inscribed on the face of the structure. The incident was immediately reported to the Santa Ana Police Department for investigation. District staff also took immediate action to attempt to remove the graffiti markings in an effort to abate what the District considered to be unsightly and a public nuisance, but such removal proved to be futile become of the composition of the paint used. Accordingly, the General Manager directed staff to immediately conceal the vandalized structure from public view with a tarp.
Because the structure was already scheduled for removal and because the District deemed it to be an unsightly public nuisance after the vandalism, it decided to immediately dismantle and remove the structure, but decided that as a courtesy, its remnants will be stored for approximately 30 days to allow the purported owners to retrieve the remnants.
Moreover, in the process of removing and dismantling the structure, it was discovered that the structure was structurally unsound because thousands of pounds of the main part of the structure was secured to the base by gravity rather than being properly secured to withstand toppling during a moderate earthquake. Unbeknownst to the District until this morning, the unsafe construction of the structure exposed to the District’s taxpayers to a tremendous amount of financial liability in the event anyone was harmed or killed by the tumbling structure. The issue of public safety was also raised by the District with the purported owners, who never responded to
the District’s concerns. In sum, this presented an unknown public safety hazard that would have been discovered had the structure been installed with proper permission from the District.
The estimated cost of dismantling, removing and storing the structure is $15,000.00, which includes not only District staff time and resources, but also the cost of assembling, operating and dismantling a 265 ton, 100 foot high crane by a private contractor retained by the District.
Reimbursement of all costs incurred by the District in dismantling, removing and storing the structure will be demanded from anyone who wants to retrieve the remnants of the structure from the District.
About Santa Ana Cemetery and the Orange County Cemetery District
Santa Ana Cemetery, founded in 1870, is one of the three public cemeteries in the County that are owned and managed by the Orange County Cemetery District, an independent special district governed by an appointed Board of Trustees. The 29-acre historic cemetery offers at-need full casket spaces, cremation urn interments, niches, and a rose garden for direct cremation burials.
More than 900 veterans are interred at the Cemetery, as are many pioneer families from Santa Ana and elsewhere in Orange County.