It’s been a contentious issue all along. Now the debate over Indian Land incorporation has a police report to go with it.
On Feb. 2, Richard Dole contacted the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office to report stolen and moved signs. Dole is one of the organizers with Voters for the Town of Indian Land, the group that put an incorporation vote on the March 27 ballot. Dole said 100 signs encouraging a “yes” vote, valued at $500, were missing.
Dole told officers the group had a permit to place the signs.
According to state law, vandalizing or removing political campaign signs is a misdemeanor with a possible fine up to $100, imprisonment up to 30 days or both. A charge could be sought for each sign defaced, vandalized, tampered with or removed.
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“Volunteers donated their hard-earned money to pay for those signs,” said Matt McCusker, spokesperson and organizer with Voters for the Town of Indian Land. “They donated their time to put them out.”
McCusker said his group wants an investigation up to the state level.
“This is the type of bullying we have seen on Facebook and at public presentations, now it has extended into committing crimes and suppressing free speech,” McCusker said.
Robin See with Citizens Against the Incorporation of Indian Land said there was no concerted effort to take or move signs.
“No one in our organization would break the law and move people’s signs,” she said. “The most important thing is we want to make sure we educate people about the true cost of incorporation. Our group is far more focused on educating folks.”
On “Vote No” Facebook pages, there were several comments in recent weeks about their signs having been stolen or moved, too. See said she doesn’t want the sign issue to “devolve into squabbles” and distract from the larger question about whether to incorporate.
“Have we noticed some of our signs that may have been taken down or are missing?” she said. “Yes, here and there, but I wouldn’t call it widespread.”
The only sign incident filed at the sheriff’s office is the Feb. 2 report, said Maj. Matt Shaw with the sheriff’s office.
Doug Barfield, also with the sheriff’s office, doesn’t remember any other similar incident reports being filed.
“We have not had, other than the current report, we have not had any recent reports that I can recall,” he said.
Beverly Williams with Citizens Against the Incorporation of Indian Land said she is aware of “ vote no” signs that went missing early on in the debate.
“I know in the very beginning some of them disappeared, but that was a long time ago,” she said. “We have no reason to go out and be petty and steal signs.”
McCusker doesn’t believe it’s one person on a whim removing the “ vote yes” signs.
“This was clearly a coordinated effort,” he said. “Our signs were only up for a few days. In many places, our ‘Vote Yes’ signs were simultaneously replaced with ‘Vote No’ signs in the exact same spot. It’s really terrible that the anti-town people are so scared of Indian Land residents hearing both sides that they would resort to widespread theft.”
Williams doesn’t agree.
“I don't know where they are,” she said of signs reported missing, “because I ride all over Indian Land and signs are still up. They’re all along the road.”