WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass., May 8 (UPI) -- Some residents of a Massachusetts city said they are upset a business owner is being forced to remove a statue of the Virgin Mary from a traffic island.
Antonio Liquori, owner of Liquori's Pizza in West Springfield, said he adopted the traffic island as part of a city program to keep the islands maintained and was told about a year later he had to take down the Virgin Mary statue he erected in the island, WWLP-TV, Springfield, reported Wednesday.
"They tell me to take the Madonna down so I was kind of upset because you know everybody has a mother," Liquori said.
The letter Liquori received from the city said the island was public property, raising an issue of separation of church and state.
"Unfortunately, in this day and age, religious artifacts are not to be displayed on city property," Vincent DeSantis, the city's deputy director of operations, wrote in the letter.
DeSantis said several complaints had been filed about the statue.
Resident Joan Palermo said she was upset at the state's removal that she has started a petition to get it returned to the traffic island.
"Everyone I know was very upset. ... The Virgin Mary wasn't doing anything. She was beautiful," she said. "I'm so heartbroken it's so empty there. Everybody when they go by, they sign the cross and they love it."