Defaced Idaho stop signs with anti-war message for sale

by on June 17, 2008 · 4 comments

in Organizing, Peace Movement


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A war protest in which 179 stop signs were defaced by stenciling the word “war” in white letters under the “stop” has morphed into an exercise in free market capitalism. A judge ordered that at least some of the defaced stop signs belonged to the people who vandalized them once they paid restitution. Those signs are now being sold – briskly and at a profit – for $80 apiece.

It has also encouraged others in the region noted for its conservative voting record to come forward with their own misgivings about the war in Iraq.

“I really am shocked almost weekly by hearing people tell me, ‘Thank you,'” 19-year-old Alexander Piet told the Post Register. “It’s really refreshing.” He said he will autograph some of the signs he’s sold when he returns to this eastern Idaho city from classes at the University of Washington.

Piet and 20-year-old Craig Bakker vandalized the signs last year, and earlier this year pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vandalism in 7th District Court. Authorities say three juveniles also took part in the vandalism, but their identities and the resolution of their cases, and whether they received any of the signs, has not been made public.

Piet and Bakker were each ordered to pay restitution for 20 signs at $60.86 per sign, adding up to $1,217.20. Both also were ordered to pay a $500 fine, plus $72.50 in court costs.

Piet has paid his restitution and received his 20 signs, and has sold 14 so far for $80 apiece. At that price, if he sells the remaining six, he would recoup $1,600 in all.

The restitution, fine and court costs add up to $1,789.70. But the $80 could be less than the market will bear.

One of the signs sold for $300 and another for $275 after the Bonneville County Democrats bought them from Piet and then auctioned them off at the annual Truman Banquet fundraiser May 3.

One was bought by Dan Henry, a member of the Snake River Freedom Coalition that formed after the signs were defaced to encourage less destructive forms of protest.

Henry is also head of the local chapter of Drinking Liberally, a national group that describes itself as “an informal, inclusive progressive social group.” He said the sign he purchased will be displayed on the group’s float during this year’s Fourth of July parade in Idaho Falls.

Thomas Hally, an Idaho Falls City Council member, disagreed with the judge’s decision to allow the vandals to own the signs.

“The war is a volatile issue,” he said. “But no one has the right to destroy public or private property to express an opinion, and I don’t think one should profit from that.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar genie June 17, 2008 at 11:44 am

That was a fun article that brought back O.B. memories. How many stop signs were “enhanced” back in those days. (and anyone remember the paintings on the mail boxes?!, I do)


avatar Molly June 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Genie, well you just admitted to crimes of youth.


avatar genie June 18, 2008 at 2:21 am

Not so………..all one has to do is look at the old O.B. Rags, and one is filled with memorabilia of the times. I, for one, have scanned through my old “Rags”, because of this blog. One could view this as nostalgia,, but there is also so much historical value. Yes, it is nostalgic to see the old adds for Peoples Food, or Hodad’s, but there is also real information about the political issues of the day, and the tactics used attempting to create change. Hopefully, they would be used as a stepping stone, to inspire whomever feels passion and despair about the situation we have sunk to, especially in the nearly last 8 years with these criminals holding power.


avatar OB Joe June 18, 2008 at 8:32 am

genie – you just made an excellent point that deserves repeating. We’re not just into nostalgia of the seventies by celebrating the old OB Rags, but there is a whole bunch of history here, just waiting for people to wade through it all.

And by the way, Molly, what crimes of youth would you like to admit to?? huh?


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