West Springfield, MA (CNN) — Vandals destroyed a Virgin Mary statue at the center of a public debate in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The statue was located on a traffic island in the town.
Back in May, the town of West Springfield made Antonio Liquori remove the statue of the Virgin Mary from the traffic island he decorates.
The mayor said religious artifacts couldn't be on public property. Liquori was crushed, and many others were too. A few weeks later it was allowed to return.
"I was really, really happy to bring the Madonna back because there's so many people and myself, I've been so emotional since that day," said Liquori in May.
For a few months the statue sat peacefully, until vandals smashed it to pieces last month.
"I think it's a wrong thing to do. If you don't like to watch that statue, which it doesn't bother anybody or hurt anybody, just look the other way," said Liquori.
He thinks vandals struck between August 6th-August 12th. He was on vacation in Italy, and didn't see it for several weeks.
The statue had been surrounded by 150 pounds of cement. After smashing it, the vandals left only a few small pieces of the statue at the site.
"If you got the time and we can sit down and we can talk about this issue. It's not about religion. That statue there represents the love and peace in the families," said Liquori.
Liquori said that before they put a new statue onto the island, they will make sure there are security measures in place, possibly adding cameras.
In the meantime, he's placed a painting of the Virgin Mary on the island, hoping whoever caused the damage will come forward to replace his statue.