Courts & Crime

Neighbors want memorial to Taser victims dismantled

FORT WORTH — Each of more than 450 crosses outside New Mount Calvary Baptist Church represents a person who was killed by a shock from a Taser, according to a sign announcing the National Taser Memorial.

Some people who live nearby said it looks more like a cemetery. And they want it dismantled.

City code compliance officers who visited this week left without issuing the church or its pastor a citation, a city official said.

Highland Hills Neighborhood Association members acknowledge that the city may be restricted in regulating the number of crosses that a church can have on its property, but still, they want their objections noted.

"I don't think that our neighborhood should have something in it that looks like a national cemetery," said Laura Meeks, beautification chairwoman and past president of the association.

"It really does not say anything good about our neighborhood."

The memorial was established in January at the church in the 5800 block of Oak Grove Road in far south Fort Worth. A large cross bears the name of Michael Jacobs Jr., a mentally challenged man who died in April 2009 after a Fort Worth police officer used a Taser on him for nearly a minute.

The city of Fort Worth settled a lawsuit with the Jacobs family for $2 million in May after the Tarrant County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

"I really think the big boys downtown do not want this symbol of the $2 million settlement that they had to pay to remain," the Rev. Thomas Franklin, pastor of New Mount Calvary, said Friday.

But Eunice Givens, president of the neighborhood association, said neighbors object to the clutter the memorial brings to the neighborhood.

"We are trying to clean the community up," she said. "We are out here trying to encourage folks to keep their community clean. And instead of (Franklin) trying to improve the community, he's adding something that takes away from our efforts.

"If he was concerned about others in this community, he would never have put it up. It creates a bad image for our community."

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