Neighbors call on council for action following vandalism of Biden signs

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BURRILLVILLE – A resident on East Wallum Lake Road is calling on the Town Council to pass a statement warning others about the potential repercussions of theft and vandalism following the disappearance of several signs in her neighborhood declaring support for presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Courtney Leja told councilors that her signs, and her neighbors’ signs, have been repeatedly ripped down.

“I don’t want to live in a town where I feel like because I’m more liberal, people feel that it’s ok to try to intimidate me as a voter or step on my first amendment rights of freedom of speech to advertise for Democratic candidates,” Leja said.

She is the second in the Pascoag neighborhood to come forward hoping to stop the vandals. Last month, resident Dan Dupuis told NRI NOW that he had repeatedly replaced flags hanging outside his East Wallum Lake home urging voters to “Dump Trump,” and vote “Biden for President 2020.”

This week, it appeared only one of the two signs remained outside of his home.

Leja said three houses on the road have fallen victim to the thieves and vandals, losing political yard signs and flags.

“We’ve replaced them and it has happened again,” Leja said, asking councilors to issue a joint statement on the issue with the Burrillville Police Department.

Another resident told councilors that she also knows of people in town who’ve had their Black Lives Matter signs stolen.

Councilor Jeremy Bailey said that while some political vandalism is, “going to happen to every side, to some degree,” he’d be willing to issue a joint statement.

“I don’t care what your political affiliation – your First Amendment rights protects you,” Bailey said. “I want to make sure your personal property, your First Amendment rights are protected.”

Col. Stephen Lynch told NRI NOW that he’s received few reports of such activity and has followed up with the homeowners on East Wallum Lake Road.

Councilor John Pacheco noted that he bought 700 political signs during the 2012 election cycle and that he currently only has 110 remaining.

Pacheco advised Leja to submit a request to have the issue placed on an agenda for discussion at a future Town Council meeting. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 23, although the agenda has not yet been published.

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