Political Signs of These Times

Trump Pence Lawn Sign
Photo Copyright SGF

During the run-up to the election, small signs sprouted on front lawns and along the shoulders of many roads in East Hampton to vote for Biden or vote for Trump or vote for Zeldin or Goroff.

There are laws in East Hampton making it illegal to put signs along public roads. It is legal, however, to put up a single political sign on your front lawn, but if you have more than one, the police are permitted to remove the excessive signs if they wish. Apparently, they did not wish, this year anyway. (They also have allowed signs on public roads to remain.)

One wonders, therefore, does the right to support candidates trump the right for government to limit you to one sign on your lawn? (Sorry about that.) Indeed, this year, the police, turning the ordinance on its head, filed charges against people going onto other people’s property and removing such signs.

On October 24, a 51-year-old man from Manhattan called the police to his home on Old Stone Highway to report his Biden/Harris sign stolen. Two days later, the police were called to Handy Lane in East Hampton, where an 85-year-old man said he had decided, after some thought, to report two Biden/Harris signs stolen from his front lawn. In both cases, no perp has been located.

There was an arrest, however, in a sign theft in East Hampton six days earlier. According to the police report, a woman was in her house on Town Lane when she saw a car drive up, a man get out and pull her Black Lives Matter sign and a Joe Biden sign from her front lawn. Hurrying out, she got to him as he was about to make off and spoke sharply to him, resulting with him putting the two signs back in the ground before leaving. After that, the woman called the police.

When they arrived, she showed them a surveillance camera. The police were able to read the license plate of the perp’s car, and subsequently arrested Salvatore Ditroia, 67, a resident of Southampton. He’s been charged with petty larceny, a misdemeanor, and the police say he agreed that yes, that was him on the footage.

Signs are still up all over the place. It’s beyond the time when voters can do anything. When does it become littering?

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