From the Lefthand Corner: Signs of the times - where do they go?

It's a crime to steal campaign signs


Political signs are part and parcel of political contests in America, particularly rural America, and have been so for a lot more years than even this old man has been around.

They may be a small part, but are still an effective part, of the ongoing campaigns here in Echoland today.

When a lawn sign is taken from a legal placement by a nonowner, it is a theft. That is a crime, a minor crime, a misdemeanor crime, but still a crime. That is true, whether it’s taken from a small city lawn, a high bank on a freeway, or a remote country intersection of a township road.

If I choose, as I did, to show my support for Joe Biden with a small sign in my yard, I should feel free to do so - without someone stealing it after just two days.

I can’t and don’t say that the thief was a Trump supporter, but the other Democrat sign just across the driveway remains where I put it; and the more numerous Trump signs on the same street remain untouched.


Surrounded by Trump supporters and signs, there ought to be enough room for one little Biden sign.

Please! Whoever you are, wherever you are, put your signs up and leave ours alone.

Most political lawn signs are either ignored or respected, but too many are mutilated, torn down, tipped over or outright stolen.

In better times of respect, acknowledgement and, when appropriate, compromise and cooperation between local Republicans and Democrats, we were able to join in public statements to admonish our workers and supporters to leave properly placed political signs alone. We even had fun occasions of sharing sign stakes and favorable sign locations.

During more than 50 years of quite active political involvement, we secured, distributed and installed untold thousands of DFL campaign signs all across the vast 8th Congressional District. In Duluth alone, with its annual elections, the DFL posted signs by the thousands.

A fun circumstance for us Duluth DFLers occurred when a doorknocker inadvertently knocked on the Republican legislative candidate’s door, and after no answer, went around to the back and there observed dozens of the pilfered DFL candidate’s signs stacked on the enclosed back porch. That quickly led to a withdrawal of Republican Party support, an early end to the young man’s campaign and an easy DFL victory.

Conversely, my most depressing sign experience was just 10 years ago. For just a legislative race, we put up a thousand signs and lost more than 300 to vandalism and theft.

I’m not contending that sign stealing is a single party sin. I too well remember a metro kid boasting about how many of his DFL dad’s opponent’s signs they “picked up” in one night.


I believe in Cass and Crow Wing counties, the county highway departments are the “policing” force to remove and stockpile illegally placed signs of any type. Sign stealing and sign destruction are both criminal acts. Since no single sign theft is viewed as a very serious crime, we can’t expect it to take up very much law enforcement time.

However, what we need is a few publicized instances of catching a few culprits and making examples of them. A few cases aggressively prosecuted should be welcomed by both parties.

I don’t like or respect the man we have as president now; but I do respect the right of his supporters to display signs on his behalf.

Express your support as you choose. Let us of opposite view do the same.

Don Bye - From the Lefthand Corner.jpg
Don Bye, columnist

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