OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The father who fought for years to put up the “Love Life” sign that welcomed visitors to Oakland is desperate to get it back after it was stolen.

“It was a surreal feeling. I don’t know why someone would do that,” said Donald Lacy of the LoveLife Foundation. “It’s something that we fought for, for years.”

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It’s been less than a year since the first of four signs welcoming visitors to Oakland went up at the corner of Bancroft and Durant in East Oakland, emblazoned with the slogan “Love Life.”

Oakland “Love Life” welcome sign. (CBS)

The sign is tribute to Lacy’s daughter Lo’eshe, whose name means “loves life.” She was killed in 1997 at just 16 years old, an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of a shooting. Donald established the LoveLife Foundation in her name.

Twenty years later, the foundation successfully lobbied the City of Oakland to adopt the slogan as its official motto.

“Every time someone enters Oakland, they’re in the ‘Love Life’ city,” said Lacy.

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But that victory was short-lived; on Tuesday, Lacy discovered the sign he worked so hard to get set up in Oakland was gone, presumed stolen along with the pole it was attached to.

“That sign is based not only my daughter’s blood, but the blood of Oscar Grant, Nia Wilson, anyone who has been murdered in our city. This is our way of honoring those we’ve lost to say, ‘We don’t forget you,'” said Lacy.

Lacy said he spoke to an official in Oakland’s Public Works Department and was told there had been no traffic accidents reported in the area. The theft on Tuesday was the second time the sign had been swiped.

Lacy said he wants the person who did it to know one thing: “It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than me. It’s for everyone, to remind us all to celebrate life.”

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