Eight young people were arrested Feb. 3 for stealing or destroying political signs belonging to local council candidate Tim Fruth.
The culprits pulled up more than 60 signs, defacing many, and then dumped them in Fruth's front yard.
All of the six juveniles and two adults were charged with criminal damage and tampering with political signs, but police surmised that the crime was more of a prank than a political attack. Fruth himself expressed compassion and said he knows the students and wanted our readers to know they are good young people.
After hearing from several parents of those arrested, we would agree -- these are good people who were not motivated by hate. They were just being mischievous. One group of students personally apologized to Mr. Fruth and even went door to door with his campaign flier in an effort to right the wrong.
What we found alarming was the fact that some of the parents and their children were not aware that what they did was a crime.
The suggestion was made by one parent that it is the school district's responsibility to inform students about the law protecting political signs.
On the contrary. It is a parent's responsibility to teach their children that tampering with these signs is against state law. In fact, parents should take responsibility to teach their children not to tamper with anything that doesn't belong to them -- whether it's a political sign or a yard decoration. This is not merely a matter of teaching children what's legal or illegal. It's a matter of what's right and wrong. Being considerate should be the cornerstone of teaching our children about obeying laws.
Signs continue to be tampered with throughout town.
So for all of us, parents and adults, here is a review:
Tampering with political signs is against state law and is a misdemeanor offense punishable by fines and even jail time. This includes moving them, defacing or marking them in any way, and even obstructing them from view.
The law protects a candidate's right to campaign. The campaign process is a vital part of the election process.
Parents, remind your children that we are blessed to live in a country where freedom reigns, but that does not mean we are free to be ignorant of its laws.