WEST PITTSTON — A political sign on Wyoming Avenue is stirring controversy in the area.
A “F—- Trump” sign hangs in the front window at 911 Wyoming Ave., a double-block home just three-tenths of a mile from Wyoming Area Secondary Center, which is for grades 7-12, and from the Wyoming Area Kindergarten Center.
The owner — or resident of — the house could not be reached for comment Thursday about the sign that bashes Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. West Pittston Mayor Tom Blaskiewicz also could not be reached for comment; however, according to West Pittston borough ordinances, the sign in the window is not in violation of any of them. Code Enforcement Officer Alan Brezinski also said he isn’t aware of any such ordinance.
West Pittston ordinance 170-67, regarding sign regulations for residential districts, refers to the placement of signs and the size of signs, but there is nothing regarding profanity.
A resident of Harding, which borders West Pittston, told the Times Leader he first saw the sign last weekend.
“I understand free speech and everything, but this is just inappropriate to put in a window two (sic) blocks away from the secondary school,” the resident said by email.
The resident, who did not want his name published, said he hasn’t decided who he’ll vote for in the presidential election. He brought up Trump’s recent sexual allegations from 2005, along with the rally held Monday at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township, where T-shirts considered to be offensive were seen.
Duryea resident John Bauman said Thursday that although the political sign might be offensive, the person who put it in the window has a right to display it.
“Unpopular speech is still protected speech,” Bauman said. “Unfortunately, people speak how they want to these days. That sign is not going to give (the kids) something they don’t already know.”
Wyoming Area Superintendent Janet Serino was attending a conference out of the district on Thursday but relayed a message through the school district’s administrative secretary saying that everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. Serino, however, does hope that whoever put up the sign understands students in the district can see it.
The sign is accompanied by several signs supporting a Democratic nominee for president. There is an “I want you to vote for Bernie Sanders” sign with Uncle Sam on it, a “Stronger Together” sign — one of the mottos of the Clinton campaign — and a “Bernie, Hillary” sign.
This isn’t the first time a First Amendment dispute has arisen in the Greater Pittston area.
In 2008, Joseph Decker, of Parsonage Street, Hughestown, was cited with a summary charge of disorderly conduct for attaching a sign to the rear window of his pickup truck that read, “If your (sic) in America and can’t speak English, get the (expletive) out.”
At the time, Decker was cited because he used an obscenity in the message. The citation said children walking to Pittston Area middle and elementary schools were exposed to the sign. Two days after the citation was issued, the charges were dropped because it was “content-based discrimination,” according to attorney Joseph Cosgrove.
At the time, Cosgrove said, “Issuing the citation is an incredible gross violation of the Constitution and is without any possible justification.”
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick