YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Should the City of Youngstown criminally charge a group of veterans for moving a war memorial where it would be better displayed and more visible? The possibility of charges came up Thursday at a city council meeting. The veterans couldn’t believe it.
Twenty-three veterans, neighbors and some friends posed for a picture Friday afternoon in front of the relocated war memorial along a vacant lot on lower South Avenue in Youngstown.
“We’ve got a gentleman here and a bunch of guys who dedicated their lives and risked their lives for us that just want to have [the memorial] where it’s recognized, where people can see it and appreciate it and learn,” Mindy Nelson said.
The Catholic War Veterans of St. Stanislaw Church first erected the war memorial in 1961 165 feet away in what was then South Side Park — land owned by the city. Over the years, vegetation covered the memorial and few knew it was there.
“If you rehabilitate and you give great maintenance to a memorial but it’s still in an abandoned park, those two don’t go together,” said retired Marine Brian Kennedy.
After notifying the city of their plans, Kennedy and others moved the memorial across the street onto land Kennedy owns two weeks ago.
City officials claim they never granted permission and at the council meeting Thursday, assistant law director Dana Lantz suggested charges might be filed for moving the memorial illegally.
“While it’s a civil matter, it could also be construed as a criminal matter,” Lantz said.
“I don’t think prosecution should ever be on the table,” Kennedy said. “In fact, I find it offensive.”
Phillip Markovitz, commander of the Catholic War Veterans, said they own the memorial and the city owns the land it used to be on. He said the Catholic War Veterans gave permission to have the memorial moved.
“I really think they should just back away from all of this. They did a good thing,” said John Brown, a veteran.
Youngstown law director Jeff Limbian said in response to the situation, “I hope clearer heads prevail to resolve this matter.”