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Brothers renew push for Holocaust memorial along San Diego's waterfront

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Posted at 4:40 PM, May 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 21:10:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Two San Diego brothers are renewing their push for a Holocaust memorial along the Embarcadero, but the Port of San Diego does not appear to be on board.

Mark and Frank Powell, who are Jewish, want to install the memorial at Tuna Harbor, just steps from the U.S.S. Midway Museum and the popular Unconditional Surrender kissing statue.

The monument depicts U.S. Soldiers liberating Nazi concentration camps at the end of World War II, with general Dwight D. Eisenhower looking on. The Powells are bringing the idea back to the Port in light of the recent Poway Chabad shooting and overall increase in anti-Semitic incidents.

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"It's to educate students, parents, tourists, the public on genocide, the Holocaust and ways to prevent this from happening," Mark Powell said.

In 2017, the Powells had the finances lined up, and support from more than a dozen politicians. They had letters from Democratic Congressman Scott Peters, Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. But the Port's Public Art committee rejected the proposal in an 8-0 vote.

In a statement Friday, Port Chairman Gary Bonelli said there were a number of issues with the proposal.

"No one on the Committee questioned the importance of the proposed WWII Military Liberation Monument, but Committee members felt that this particular proposal neither inspired nor caused one to contemplate the subject matter," Bonelli said.

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Bonelli added that there were concerns over the proposed location due to size and the imagery of barbed wire and chains, particularly next to the Unconditional Surrender Kissing Statue, which he described as popular and celebratory.

Mark Powell said that's precisely why it's the right location.

"Not everything is going to be butterflies and roses," he said. "We have to teach our kids that life is hard and life is a struggle."

The port added that it's not currently accepting new art proposals for the Embarcadero because of redevelopment.

A spokeswoman for the agency says the Powells can re-submit their monument proposal if there are significant changes after their prior feedback. They have until January 2020 to do so.