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Salem-based Satanic Temple sues Minn. city for blocking proposed monument

The Satanic Temple’s proposed monument in Belle Plaine, Minn. Satanic Temple via Associated Press/The Satanic Temple via AP

BELLE PLAINE, Minn. — The Salem, Mass.-based Satanic Temple is suing a Minnesota city that withdrew permission for a satanic monument two years ago, when officials got tangled in a debate over religious symbols in public places.

Temple cofounder Malcolm Jarry said people have a right to protest the proposed monument, ‘‘but the result of the protest shouldn’t be depriving others of their civil rights.’’

Belle Plaine had decided to allow a steel silhouette of a soldier praying over a grave marked with a cross at a veterans memorial park. The temple wanted its own monument in a designated ‘‘public forum’’ area. Officials shut down the public forum when complaints came about the proposed satanic monument.

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‘‘I knew this was going to be a problem,’’ Councilman Paul Chard said, referring to the city’s initial acceptance of the soldiers monument.

The monument proposed by the Satanic Temple is a 23-inch black cube inscribed with inverted pentagrams, topped with an upturned helmet.

‘‘As you well know, you can’t decide to suppress speech just because hecklers didn’t like it,’’ said Bruce Fein, a Washington lawyer representing the temple.

The Satanic Temple has 18 chapters nationwide. The organization says it advocates for a stricter separation of church and state and that it doesn’t believe in supernatural beings, including Satan.