Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Is the Colorado Peace Wreath a Victory Sign?"

The Progressive:
The free speech triumph of Lisa Jensen and Bill Trimarco may herald a less repressive climate, at least for some who dissent.

Jensen and Trimarco of Loma Linda, Colorado, put up a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace symbol on their house. For doing so, they were threatened by the Loma Linda Homeowners Association with a $25-a-day fine. They said they were displaying the peace sign in part because the association made another couple in their subdivision, Will and Nancy Dunbar, remove their peace sign from the end of their driveway a few days before.
“People have heard our message of peace.”

“Jensen and Trimarco crafted their peace wreath Nov. 18,” the Denver Post reported. “Within 24 hours, they received a notice from their homeowners association stating that the wreath violated covenants against displaying signs and advertisements.”

The letter said, in part, that “Loma Linda residents are offended by the peace sign displayed on the front of your house.” Bob Kearns, who was president of the association at the time, said, “Some people have kids in Iraq, and they are sensitive,” the Post reported, adding that he also said some viewed it as a sign of Satan.

When word got out, the homeowners association was besieged by negative reaction, including from Loma Linda residents and from families of Iraq War soldiers. On November 27, the association apologized to Jensen and Trimarco. Kearns and the other board members resigned.

Meanwhile, people in nearby Pagosa Springs have rallied behind Jensen and Trimarco—and have put up peace signs of their own.

“A new lighted wreath in the shape of a peace sign now graces the tower of the old Pagosa Springs town hall, and a band of townspeople marched Tuesday carrying peace signs and stamping a large peace sign in the snow of a town park,” the Denver Post reported. “Peace-sign wreaths are also popping up on homes as Pagosa Springs becomes part of a wide-ranging holiday wreath movement that has been sparked by controversy” over the Jensen and Trimarco case.

“Score one for peace and comity,” editorialized the Denver Post when the association backed down.

“People have heard our message of peace,” Jensen told the paper. “It’s been phenomenal.”

Will Dunbar reflects back on the whole incident.

“I just thought someone needed to put it out there,” he tells The Progressive, explaining why he posted his own sign earlier this month. “Peace is a good thing.”

After the homeowners association made him take it down, “We put a peace wreath made of Christmas tree lights in our window.” The Dunbars weren’t hassled about that one.

Dunbar doesn’t want the town to get a bad reputation. “We’re in a healing process right now,” he says.

“There’s been so much positive response within our subdivision,” he adds. “Lisa got so many positive calls. Several other people put up small peace signs in support of Lisa, and I personally never heard any negative comments, and last time I asked Lisa, she never had heard any, either.”

Dunbar was one of those who participated in the Pagosa Springs march.

“I think there was only 20 of us,” he says. “We didn’t start organizing until the night before. The walk was at 9:00 in the morning. It was snowing out, so we made a 150-foot peace sign in the snow” at the local park. “There was a lot of support in the town. People waved and gave us the peace sign.”
Howie request: Can anyone help me get my own Peace Wreath?

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