Sign stealing creates unease during election season
by Kathryn Dunn | firstname.lastname@example.org
A resident on Baughman Drive received an unwelcomed piece of mail last week. A stamped envelope, which had been processed through Santa Ana post office, included a letter admonishing the resident for displaying a Black Lives Matter sign in their front yard.
The anonymous letter read:
“The neighbors around you wanted to ask that should you need help anytime in the future, please don’t be hypocritical enough to call the police. As a supporter of Black Lives Matter—an organization openly devoted to dismantling the police department, supportive of violence, looting assaults on innocent victims and silent to the killings of innocent police officers—your neighbors suggest you call your friends at BLM instead.
It would be interesting to see how quickly they rush to help you. Plus, it would be a waste to have our hard earned tax dollars being spent on someone as arrogant and unappreciative as you.
While you are of course entitled to your opinion, as ignorant and misguided as it seems to be, please know your sign is a stain on the neighborhood and not appreciated. Have a nice day.”
The letter was received September 21, with a return address on Foothill Boulevard. A Google search showed the address of the Pacific Western Bank located in front of the Claremont United Methodist Church, which each holiday season constructs a Nativity symbolizing more progressive values.
“I think the whole thing is funny in a sad kind of way,” the resident told the COURIER by phone Wednesday. “Just that somebody would go to the trouble of sending a letter to a resident who they don’t know and then to put a fake address on it is sad. The handwriting looks like they did it to remain unrecognizable.”
The family’s Black Lives Matter sign went up a few weeks ago.
“It looks like somebody is taking out their aggressions anonymously, but I do not expect it to result in anything further,” he shared. “If someone is going to state an opinion and not own up to it—why are they sending me a letter?”
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, about a dozen pro-Trump political signs were taken from front yards of homes and dumped on the first floor of the First Street parking garage.
A Claremonter pulled into the parking structure on Sunday afternoon to find the pile of “Trump for President” signs. Some were badly damaged.
Sgt. Robert Ewing said the Claremont Police Department has been receiving notifications about this kind of activity through a citizen feedback form available on the city’s website.
One such complaint stemmed from an incident September 26 when a resident on Eighth Street between Cambridge Avenue and Mayflower reported that political signs were damaged between 9 and 10 p.m. Some of the signs in that area were reportedly knocked down; others were pulled up and dumped, according to police.
“It’s illegal. Technically, it is theft. You can’t do that,” Sgt. Ewing said.
Other calls have come in about paint being sprayed over the signs, he explained.
“On the higher stake elections this sometimes happens, but not usually council,” Sgt. Ewing said. “Residents might complain about the size of a sign or where it’s located. But painting across a Trump or Biden sign, or tearing them down, I haven’t seen that too much in the past.”
Sgt. Ewing attributes most of the objectionable activity to the current state of politics.
“With COVID and protests and the presidential election, it’s the perfect storm,” he said. “That’s where everyone is headed, with emotions on their sleeves. We’ve got to slow things down and really think about what we are getting into.”
The Claremont Police Department is currently reviewing video surveillance from the parking structure to determine if a vehicle or suspect can be identified, the sergeant said.
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the political climate is getting any better soon,” he cautioned. “Let people voice their opinion. It’s within their right to say how they feel about a topic.”
For the Baughman Drive resident, it’s just another aspect to life in Claremont.
“Claremont is crazy about lawn signs—everything gets one—it’s charming in a way. We grow lawn signs like mushrooms on a farm yard,” he quipped.
And despite the criticism from the anonymous letter writer, he said the sign will stay.