Sign vandals show party preference | Column
By CYNTHIA LAKE
Kirkland Reporter Contributor
September 6, 2012 · Updated 12:24 PM
This is about freedom of speech, and how anyone can become a target of the hate mongers.
In the fall of 2008, the cyclone fence down by the park-n-ride lot on NE 70th was covered with signs for candidates from both parties, but there were none for Barack Obama.
It didn’t seem fair that McCain/Palin should be represented but not Obama/Biden, so I decided to rectify what I thought was just an oversight. I went to Democratic headquarters in Bellevue and got an Obama sign.
The signs were plastic bags, designed to fit over a metal frame, and printed on both sides. I cut the bags in half, attaching each side to a piece of foam-core board, so I got two signs for the price of one.
I already had a hand-made Obama sign in my dining room window, so I left my sign up, and took one of my newly made semi-official foam-core signs down to the park-n-ride.
I put the Obama/Biden sign up on the fence alongside the ones for Gregoire, Rossi, and McCain/Palin. The next morning the Obama sign was lying on the ground. Had the wind blown it down? The other signs were okay, so it seemed unlikely, but it could have happened that way, I suppose. I put the sign back up. The following day the sign was in the rain catchment basin.
No accident this time. Someone was doing this deliberately. I fished out the sign, cleaned it off, and put it back up. By the next morning, the sign had completely disappeared.
I bought more signs, more foam-core board. I attached a sign to the fence with wires. The wires were snipped and the sign hacked to pieces with a box knife. I mounted a sign on plywood, covered it with Plexiglass and padlocked it to the fence. The Plexiglass was smashed with a rock. No other signs were ever touched, just the Obama/Biden signs.
It made me angry, but the situation was scary too. As I kept replacing the signs, I thought about all the places in the world where people had died for daring to speak out.
Surely a thing like that couldn’t happen here, in the beautiful city of Kirkland? As a people, as a country, I knew we were better than that.
Yet, these things didn’t just happen. The attacks on the signs weren’t pranks, but showed real malice.
It was chilling to think one of my neighbors was so filled with anger and hate.
In hindsight, I should have called the police. Instead I just kept doggedly replacing the signs. It was a mistake. I never dreamt things would get personal.
A couple of days before the election, a neighbor asked if she could have one of my signs to put in her yard, so I gave her one of the foam-core ones. During the night, the sign was ripped down and her house was T.P.’d.
The attacker must’ve thought she was the one who’d been putting the signs up down at the park-n-ride and was punishing her for it, and had moved from neutral space onto our street, trespassing, and targeting our homes.
I felt physically sick. What if he’d decided to do something worse than just T.P. her house in retaliation for putting up the signs?
Am I going to put up Obama signs this year on my house, my car, the fence at the park-n-ride? I haven’t yet decided.
I don’t know who the assailant is or where he lives, but I know he’s nearby.
Plus, he’s had four years for his hate and anger to build. Do I want to make myself a target? Yet, if I don’t put up the signs, then hate and intimidation have won, no matter who wins the election.
I guess it’s time to get out the padlocks and the Plexiglass again.
Carol Lake is a Kirkland writer. Her work has appeared in Northwest Traveler, Victoria Magazine, and the Villager among other publications.