Republican voters in Des Moines County have been targeted for their political views through sign theft and vandalism, as well as letters.
| for The Hawk Eye
In the shadow COVID-19 has cast across America lurks another problem, sinister because it is the product of humans wishing to harm others.
We’re talking political yard sign looting.
Theft and disfigurement of political yard signs is a clear signal that opposing political viewpoints are not fortifying America’s belief in the First Amendment.
The short view is this: You have the right to freedom of expression. You do not have the right to trespass or steal.
Political bannering goes back to John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the U.S., who, according to a blog by the Municipal Supply & Sign Co. in Florida, “wanted to get an edge on his opponent in his presidential campaign run and convinced townspeople to put up his signs in their yards.”
However, the blog goes on to clarify, Adams was not the original inventor of political signs — that dates back to Ancient Rome.
“In those days,” the blog says, “scribbles on walls were the form of advertising they used for political purposes.”
Things haven’t changed much in the past 2,000 years.
In our modern times, Democrats and Republicans are still scribbling, but now the medium is a flat paper or plastic rectangle about 18 by 24 inches, supported by a wire or wooden stake and planted in a voter’s yard.
This year’s contentious presidential election has polarized, galvanized and insanitized Americans into doing something they’d never consider in saner times: trespassing on a stranger’s property to steal or vandalize private property.
The Washington Post reported last month that in the key state of Pennsylvania, former Vice President Joe Biden is getting hit hard.
“It usually happens in the dark of night, local Democrats say, but sometimes in daylight,” the Post said. “Sometimes entire streets or neighborhoods are cleared.”
President Donald Trump is getting hit, too: The Boston Globe said, “The Trump yard sign-stealing epidemic has gotten seriously out-of-hand in Massachusetts.”
Here in Southeast Iowa, examples of sign theft can be found easily by asking someone pushing a cart in your local grocery store: Hey, stranger, have you had any political yard signs stolen this year?
Or just get on Facebook and you’ll find plenty of mis/information.
But is sign theft rampant in Southeast Iowa? In Des Moines County, officials harbor widely differing views on the magnitude of sign raiding.
Terry Davis, chairman of the Des Moines County Republicans, said they’ve had to replace about 50 signs in the past 45 days.
“They deface signs at night, mainly the barn signs — the 4-by-8s,” Davis said. “There’s an individual who lives on Sunnyside, he’s a friend of mine; they’ve defaced his sign with vulgar language. They’re a block and a half from the school. I’m ashamed of the people in Burlington who would stoop that low.”
Aldo Leopold Intermediary School is just…
Read More: Des Moines County Republicans report theft and vandalism of yard signs