Twenty-six citizens gathered outside a popular cemetery in Cypress on Monday to protest a list of at least 10 grievances they say disrespect the dead and neglect the cemetery.
“It is unfortunate that our deceased are not only ignored but also looked down upon by the very people who acted as concerned stewards while we searched for a final resting place for our deceased,” said Marie Elguira, spokesperson for the group. .
She said the group had asked to meet with a company executive “to discuss our concerns.” Instead, she claimed, the company denied their request and instead had the office and premises guarded by four police officers.
Elguira said the executive sent a representative to tell him there was “no time for my death” and asked him to leave. Elguira said her mother and more than 20 other family members are buried there and grievances have been simmering for years.
In a written statement, Elguira said the group contacted the city of Cypress and police “and informed them of the upcoming event.”
She said that “multiple attempts have been made to initiate a dialogue with Glendale head office and the vice president of Cypress. Unfortunately, says Elguira, “all appeals have been eluded. I spoke with several staff members to communicate our group’s message, but those conversations were fruitless.
The Event-NewsEnterprise has also contacted Forest Lawn Cypress and received the following statement.
“Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks strives to provide safe environments and beautiful settings for visitors at each of our six memorial parks. Safety is our #1 priority for families and park employees. Information about decorations, what is safe and when items can be removed is posted at Forest Lawn Park locations through banners, informational flyers and signs,” said Tom Smith, Relationship Manager public at Forest Lawn.
Further, his email only stated that “specific information on decorating and removal policies can be found at the following websites in three languages (with web address)”.
In a brief interview, Smith acknowledged the other grievances but now said the statement would stand as is.
Elguira said the group were protesting outside Forest Lawn “to show our group’s displeasure”.
She said “our goal is to raise awareness of the company’s neglect of the cemetery over the past two years.” This neglect has led to dismal maintenance of the cemetery, leading to these persistent problems, including:
• Invasive grass covering tombstones and tablets.
• Unreadable tombstones.
• Missing headstones or unmarked graves.
• Cracked, damaged tablets.
• Depressed graves located several centimeters below ground level.
• Potholes throughout the cemetery.
• Staff and workers drive over graves and tablets scratching and leaving marks or even breaking them.
• Continuous flight inside the cemetery.
• Minimum security monitoring.
• The cemetery becomes a refuge for the homeless, criminals, drug traffickers and even prostitutes.
She said on Sept. 13, the day of the protest, Cypress Forest Lawn officials were to permanently remove all decorations, including plants, flowers, plant holders and other ornamental decorations from the cemetery.
“This is their response to silence anyone complaining to management about the dismal maintenance of the park,” Elguira said in the statement.
However, she said, further research shows that Cypress Forest Lawn operated with a reduced crew to maintain the cemetery and the maintenance budget was diverted into bonuses for their leaders.
She said another protest is planned for this weekend and will continue until she is granted a meeting with management.