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Mago removed despite protest
Written by Greg Ruland   
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 17:00

Protestors who succeeded in preventing the removal of a 39-foot tall statue and pedestal from Mago Earth Park on Saturday, Feb. 20, called off their protest Monday, Feb. 22, and agreed to stop blocking access to the park, said Genia Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the protestors.

Tao Fellowship, which operates the park, planned to dismantle and remove the statue Tuesday, Feb. 23, one day before a deadline set by Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission expires.

Protestors decided to stop blocking access after Tao Fellowship agreed to meet some of their requests, including a meeting with supporters to answer questions Wednesday, Feb. 24, and promising to “keep the spirit of the Mago statue alive in Yavapai County in some way,” Sullivan stated in a press release.

Under overcast skies, more than 30 protestors shivered in a cold wind and intermittent rain for more than two hours Saturday, refusing to budge from their position, blocking the only driveway into the park even as a large truck brought in to transport the statue backed to within inches of their picket line.
The commission ordered the statue removed by Tao Fellowship, the organization that operates the park, before Wednesday, Feb. 24, but protestors ignored pleas from a fellowship spokeswoman to move out of the way.

“Tao Fellowship has made this decision to move forward in compliance with the city with the expectation that the city will follow due process and equal protection,” Jennifer Sing, a spokeswoman for the fellowship, told protestors Saturday.
“This is the best way we can serve Mago,” she said.

In response, protestors beat a drum and chanted, “Keep Mago Earth Park. Overcome diversity. Stand for peace and harmony. Let Mago stay.”

Sing said removal of statues from the park would cost Tao Fellowship about $25,000. Only a few of the more than 20 statues remain at the site. Except for a statue of Mago, Kokopelli and two others, all other statues had been removed by Saturday.

Sing declined to comment on whether the park was to be shut down entirely.

Tao Fellowship and Dahn Yoga are related. Both organizations follow the teachings of South Korean businessman Ilchi Lee.
At the scene, mostly Dahn Yoga members represented Friends of Mago, a group organized to protest the removal of the statue, Sullivan said. Several residents of Cottonwood and Sedona not affiliated with any group also joined the protest.
Sara Knoblock, of Cottonwood, who attended the protest with her two children, said, “I don’t believe in hatred of any kind. Plus, my children haven’t seen the statue and I wanted them to see it before they take it away.”

“I’m concerned about the bigotry,” Sally Peck, of Sedona, said. “It just seems to be permeating the people of the city.”
Sullivan, a member of Dahn Yoga who resides in New Jersey, said Friends of Mago was not acting under the direction of Lee and did not coordinate the protest with Tao Fellowship or Dahn Yoga.

The deadline for Tao Fellowship to appeal the commission’s decision expired Feb. 5. Failure to comply with the commission’s order by Feb. 24 would have meant Tao Fellowship losing its temporary use permit to operate a visitor center and transfer station at the site.

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