Doug Thorson had a big “Trump” sign stolen earlier this summer and while he was not angered by the theft he admits to being disappointed.
His message to the perpetrator of the crime?
“You’re kind of trampling on my First Amendment rights,” Thorson said.
Not only did the Fergus Falls man pay $36 for the sign but he also drove over to Ottertail to pick it up. If he had not been driving a good-sized vehicle that day he might not have been able to transport it back to Fergus Falls. The sign was four 4-by-10 feet.
“I said ‘holy moly, this thing is big!’” Thorson laughed.
He set the sign up in his yard on East Mount Faith Avenue. Four days later it was gone.
For Thorson, the theft of his sign sparked some deja vu. He had shown his support for Trump and other conservative candidates in 2016. The signs were only up a couple of weeks before someone ran them over. Thorson put more signs up and after a few days, someone trashed them and he wrote a letter to the editor of The Daily Journal at that time asking whoever had trashed the signs to knock on his door. He was hoping to establish a dialogue with his unknown political antagonist.
No one showed up.
The Thorsons were not discouraged by the theft of their Trump sign. They made one of their own, just as big as the first, and put it back up in their yard. The lettering on the sign is made of duct tape.
“I didn’t think I trusted myself to be a very good artist and paint what I wanted to say on it, besides I figured it wouldn’t last very long anyway,” Thorson said.
The second Trump sign is up and it is still standing. It proclaims, “You can steal my sign but not my vote.”
Thorson is not the only Fergus Falls Trump supporter who has seen his political signs disappear. The call logs at the Fergus Falls Police Department have been laced with a peppering of complaints by residents about missing signs.
While it may be nothing more than a childish prank by some during a political race, people like Ron Synstelien like to be ready for trouble if it comes.
Synstelien, a resident of East Fir Avenue, believes in supporting political candidates. The heavily traveled avenue on the north side of Fergus Falls has its share of endorsements. Like Thorson, Synstelien is a supporter of the Trump-Pence ticket. He had his own political sign displayed but it was guarded by a hidden security camera.
When a teenage girl decided to take Synstelien’s sign away he had a video of her. He posted the video clip on social media to communicate to others what had happened. When the girl’s father saw the video he recognized the car and called Synstelien.
“He asked if I would be open for this being a teachable moment,” Synstelien said. “The restitution would be made by bringing the signs back, an apology and putting them back in the ground.”
The teenager showed up at the Synstelien residence with a friend and did what her father had promised.
“I credit the dad taking a situation and making it a teachable moment,” Synstelien said. “We were hoping for the best results and we got the best results.”