Who would bother to drive around in the middle of the night in order to steal signs from fellow villagers’ yards? This is the question I find myself asking after the anti-consolidation signs in certain yards of northeast Oak Park, including mine, went missing the night before the election.
As we all know by now, the Oak Park referendum to consider consolidation of the taxing bodies passed, but it is a pity that it could have passed honestly without this final attempt to manipulate the vote and undermine opposing points of view. That someone decided to take up a career in middle-of-the-night sign theft over a local referendum is hard not to laugh at, but it does leave you wondering about the motivation. What was at the root of the thief’s actions? Fear? Anger? Or just entitlement? If this were a nonbinding referendum aimed at helping residents, why trespass on private property in order to undermine their First Amendment right to free speech?
At first glance, this might seem like a child’s random act of vandalism, but several elements, including the targeted nature of the theft which left other political signs in place, point to an invested adult as the culprit.
In the scheme of things, stolen signs are small potatoes, but like the actions described in previous “One View” letters that discussed autocratic and authoritarian patterns emerging in village government [“Make no mistake, this is authoritarian creep,” 8/14/18; “Vote ‘No’ to stop autocratic restructuring,” 8/14/18], seemingly trivial offenses such as these are often the beginning of what eventually grows into more consequential and suppressive decisions.
As the village continues to propose and consider changes to our government, we must be careful to not let any changes come in like a thief in the night and steal the village we know and love.