Cow tongue nailed to tree at civic center
The Yuma Police Department is investigating a bizarre incident involving a cow tongue being nailed to a tree that may have been placed there as part of a Santeria ritual.
Santeria is a religion combining traditional beliefs from West Africa with Roman Catholic Christianity. It was founded by African slaves brought to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations over 400 years ago.
On Sept. 25, Yuma Parks and Recreation employees discovered the tongue nailed to a tree in the Yuma Civic Center parking lot, 1440 W. Desert Hills Drive. They reported the incident to police at about 7:48 a.m.
There was a similar incident over the summer, said Sgt. Leanne Worthen, YPD public information officer.
“On one other occasion, parks and recreation employees told us they saw a cow tongue nailed to a tree. They did not report that incident but said it happened about two and half months ago.”
Other incidents of cow tongues being nailed to trees have been reported all over the United States during the past 15 years.
In July 2009, 15 calf tongues were found nailed to trees in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The tongues, which appeared to come from a butcher shop, were hanging about six feet off the ground from 15 different tree trunks, park officials told the New York Daily News at the time.
According to the website of Luturna, a self-proclaimed practicing witch, one reason for nailing a cow tongue to a tree is to “stop a liar” from spreading any more false rumors about the person or persons performing the ritual.
In September 1997, employees of the Los Angeles County Department of Public and Social Services painted a cow tongue yellow, stuffed scraps of paper inside it containing the names of 14 fellow employees and hung it from a tree at their office, according to the L.A. Times.
At the time, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department determined a “hostile work environment” at the office had prompted a few employees loyal to the administrator to perform the ritual “to make someone stop talking evil.” The tongue was hung a few weeks prior to an employee demonstration against the administrator.
YPD encourages anyone with information about the Yuma cow tongue incidents to call 373-4700, or 78-CRIME to remain anonymous.