STOCKTON -- After repeated vandalism incidents, Stockton Firefighters Local 456 says its memorial statue will be placed in storage until a new location is ready.
"We just basically realized that this is something we have to safe guard,” Battalion Chief Jonathan Smith with the Stockton Fire Department said. "We decided the only way to safeguard it was to remove it until we can figure out a better place that we could put it or a better way to safeguard it."
The statue was removed Thursday.
The union says the memorial, first erected in 1998 to honor fallen firefighters Brett Laws and Bryan Golden, was vandalized repeatedly over the last two years.
Before its move the monument had been defaced and broken repeatedly then a fence had been placed around it.
“We don't want this to be a memorial where we have to have a fence around it. We want this to be an interactive memorial,” Chief Smith told FOX40.
Stockton residents were saddened to hear of its move.
“That's a terrible thing. People just ... man... what's the world coming to? They can't even respect the monument,” Douglas Rigmaiden of Stockton said. “I think it was a very important part of the park,” Rigmaiden said.
Chief Smith said the monument is now in an undisclosed safe place and that he and fellow firefighters are hoping to move it to a place where the community can once again pay their respects to those who gave their all to protect Stockton.
The fire department is also fundraising to help pay for the rebuilding of the monument: https://www.gofundme.com/sfd-fallen-firefighters-monument