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Political signs vandalized around Morris

Chrissy Kolaya and Brook Miller woke up on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 23 to find the political signs in the front yard of their 4th Street home trampled. Several residents in the Morris area have also had political signs vandalized or stolen, but most incidents have not been reported to the Morris Police Department. (Submitted photo)

MORRIS - On Friday, Sept. 21, Morris resident Jennifer Amy-Dressler woke up to find the political signs in her yard were missing.

One of the orange "Vote No" signs opposing the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage was tossed in the street about a block away. The other - folded into the shape of a paper airplane - landed behind a parked car in the street.

The same morning, a "Vote No" sign was found shredded on Wyoming Avenue, and several other signs were missing from yards on the west side of town.

As the election season heats up and more and more political signs appear around the community, the opportunities for vandalism have increased. City Manger Blaine Hill said he has received a couple of phone calls about campaign signs in the last several weeks, including a report from one candidate for city council who said someone has stolen signs.

Hill said that while he doesn't believe there is a specific law about stealing political signs, "stealing is stealing. It is not legal to steal somebody's signs."

Morris Police Chief Jim Beauregard said the MPD has not received many calls about sign vandalism, but does try to be vigilant about vandalism during the sometimes heated political season.

"We don't want to get into a situation where someone is stealing somebody else's signs or damaging them, so we try to be pretty vigilant about patrolling," said Beauregard.

"The unfortunate thing about the political sign issue is that they don't always get stolen or damaged because of a political view," he said.

For example, the MPD received some calls about missing signs on 2nd Street at the end of August, but there were a number of parties that weekend that caused heavy foot traffic in the area and may have resulted in the missing signs.

"We try and be careful about saying 'This is a big political mess going on out here' when it's really just an act of vandalism," he said.

Dan Pagel of the Stevens County Republicans said he has received a few reports of missing signs, and encouraged anyone who has had signs stolen or vandalized to report it to the police.

The city has also received some questions about where signs can be placed. According to the Morris City Code, political signs are exempt from the city's sign permit requirement. Hill said there is also no rule about placing signs on the boulevards, and the city is not policing sign placement.

"The general rule is to ask the property owner for permission before placing a sign," said Hill.

However, Beauregard recommended placing signs in their yards rather than in the boulevards - "That seems to make a difference in the crimes of opportunity."

Beauregard also urged residents to call the police if they do experience vandalism so the department can respond more effectively.