Construction of Los Angeles AIDS Memorial To Begin Soon
Construction on a controversial AIDS monument in Los Angeles' Lincoln Park is set to begin soon, according to a press release from The Wall -- Las Memorias Project (The Wall -- Las Memorias Project release, 1/20). The memorial commemorates Latinos and non-Latinos who have died of AIDS-related illnesses and will include a rose garden, benches, a walking path, a sculpture and eight wall panels upon which the names of people who have died will be listed (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/29/03). The design also calls for six of the panels to be murals, according to the release. Construction on the monument was scheduled to begin in December 2003 but was delayed because the Los Angeles City Attorney's office called for the removal of a mural panel that some people believed depicted the Virgin of Guadalupe. The panel was considered "religious in nature" and therefore not appropriate for the publicly funded project, according to the release. The removed panel will be purchased with private funds raised by the project and is expected to become part of a touring AIDS awareness and education project, according to Richard Zaldivar, executive director and founder of the project. He added, "While we are disappointed that this one panel will be removed, we will respect the opinion of the city attorney. We know that our message of compassion, hope and understanding for our community continues with the construction of the AIDS monument (The Wall -- Las Memorias Project, 1/20).
Several groups have opposed construction of the monument, saying that it will attract gay men "who will hold hands in public" and others have criticized the monument as "pagan" because it is in the shape of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, according to the release (The Wall -- Las Memorias Project release, 1/20). Some opponents of the monument in March allegedly shouted anti-gay statements at a project meeting and distributed fliers stating, "Latino gay men [have] been covertly trying to make a monument to themselves." The flier was signed by the Coalition to Save Lincoln Park, but the people distributing the flier did not know who was responsible for the material or who was involved in the coalition (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/29/03).