Campaigns inspire local sign shenanigans
rules of the road
Political sign rules in Colorado:
— Signs on private property can be placed at the discretion of the property owner.
— Political signs aren’t allowed in the right of way of highways, and aren’t allowed in roundabouts.
— Defacing, destroying or stealing signs is illegal.
With a presidential campaign as intense as this year’s, vandalism to political yard signs in Aspen and Pitkin County have become part of the partisan clash.
So far this fall, Aspen police have taken four complaints about vandalized or stolen signs for President Donald Trump, all from the same Republican resident of Aspen’s west side.
“One sign was changed to say something that might offend people with delicate sensibilities,” Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said Friday.
Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies have received one report about vandalized or stolen Trump signs from Bob Jenkins, second vice-chair of Pitkin County Republicans.
Jenkins’ report — filed Sept. 23 — says he put up signs along Highway 82 at 6 p.m. and went back at 10 p.m. to find they’d been cut down.
“Jenkins was unsure of who cut the signs down, but suspected the culprit to be a part of the Pitkin County Democratic Committee,” according to a deputy’s report. “Jenkins said he wanted this report to be ‘in the paper’ as soon as possible and stressed that he would like Sheriff Joe DiSalvo to call the Pitkin County Democratic Committee to warn them from defacing their political signs.”
On Friday, Carol Jenkins, who was there when her husband reported the incident and is secretary of the local Republican Party, said he was misquoted in the report. What he told the deputy was that he wanted the chairs of both county parties to be called so they could remind their members that such actions are illegal and should not be tolerated.
“Bob did not say that,” Carol Jenkins said.
Howie Wallach, chair of the Pitkin County Democratic Party, said Friday he and other members of the local party apparatus had nothing to do with the theft or vandalization of local Republican Party signs. Further, he said the same thing thing is happening to local Democratic Party signs.
For example, 15 signs for former Vice President Joe Biden were stolen Thursday night or Friday morning from homes on Riverside Drive in Basalt, Wallach said. Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott said his department had received reports Friday from six people in the same area.
“Our (personal yard) signs have been stolen twice,” Wallach said. “Others on the block have been stolen. I just replace them. I don’t report them to the police.”
Neither police agency has any suspects in the sign shenanigans, according to police reports.
Under Colorado law, misdemeanor charges of trespassing and criminal mischief can be filed against those responsible. People who deface signs also can be held liable for damages.
“There’s a lot of anger (and other emotion) in the public right now — it’s been a tumultuous year and it’s a scary time,” University of Colorado at Boulder political science professor Anand Sokhey told The Denver Post earlier this month. “Identity is being triggered (constantly) by our politics, which when combined with the pandemic and economic pressures is certainly a recipe for people taking actions that are linked to how they see themselves.”
The Pitkin County commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve an emergency ordinance that will prohibit concealed handguns at and within 100 feet of all voting centers and polling places.
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