Opinion: Leave The Signs Alone

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Sometime very soon, a young person in Verona will have to stand up in municipal court and explain why a lawn sign supporting President Trump’s re-election was taken and destroyed. The answer is that there is no good answer for such action. Nor is there any good answer as to why one household here received a threatening letter over its banner supporting the president. Nor is there any good reason for the theft of signs supporting the Biden campaign, Black Lives Matter or even frontline workers during the pandemic.

Leave the signs–and the people who post them–alone.

In Verona, a single-family property owner can put out a lawn sign anywhere on the property that does not impede a public right of way. There will be a lot of signs put up before November 3. They are an indication of one household’s choice, and in our democracy, every citizen of voting age has the right to vote for the candidate of his or her choice. There should be no coercion of that choice and certainly no suppression. 

Sometimes, the view out your front window will be of a sign that isn’t to your liking. You cannot–and you should not–do anything to deface or destroy it. In the age of door cameras, there’s a good chance you will be caught, which could mean a disorderly persons summons, a court appearance and a criminal record that will be checked when you apply for a job. You also cannot–and should not–do anything to threaten or harm the people embracing these signs. It is their choice, and if they have posted a sign affirming that choice, you are unlikely to change their mind through force. Going to war over a lawn sign is not what the late Congressman John L. Lewis meant when he admonished people to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.”

So what should you do? Work for the things you believe in. Engage with your local, state and federal representatives to help them see why these issues are important to you. Engage with private-sector companies and organizations too. Engage in a dialogue with your neighbors and acquaintances, online and–masked and distanced–in person to hear out their views on a subject and to share what shaped your views. Respectfully. If you don’t know how to do that, ask a peer mediator at F.N. Brown to show you how to change a “you” message into an “I” message.  

Be prepared to be challenged about your views. If you believe that police budgets should be reduced, be prepared to discuss the impact of alternative approaches to public safety. If you insist that all lives matter, be prepared to answer questions about what needs to happen in this country for that to be true for people of color.

Just leave the lawn signs alone.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].

1 COMMENT

  1. My compliments on the overall message in the article. We are living in very turbulent times. Feelings are running strong on many issues. The atmosphere created by the Covid-19 outbreak I feel also needs to be part of the equation. Tempers need to be controlled if any meaningful discussions are to take place.

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