Signs of trouble

On either side, political signs of support rile tempers

Posted 10/20/20

The upcoming presidential election has resulted in a flurry of chaos for Madisonville resident Les Neal.

It’s not the boisterous debates or the dreary weight of political banter that has Neal …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Signs of trouble

On either side, political signs of support rile tempers


The upcoming presidential election has resulted in a flurry of chaos for Madisonville resident Les Neal.

It’s not the boisterous debates or the dreary weight of political banter that has Neal on the edge of his seat, but the removal of his yard signs supporting President Donald Trump.

In retaliation to what he claims has become an almost weekly occurrence, Neal posted a makeshift sign on his fence last week that included the name of a 14-year-old boy who had previously removed a Trump sign from his yard.

The sign identified the minor as a “Thief”, included an address, and resulted in outrage from a number of individuals in the community. The minor had already received a citation and admitted to his actions. According to the Madisonville Police Department, he was not implicated in any of the ensuing occurrences that prompted the sign.

“I don’t know if he did the other three,” said Neal. “(The ensuing incidents) all happened on a Saturday night, but I don’t know if he did all of them. But he was guilty of the first one. I figured, okay, I’ll put the pressure on him and maybe the investigation will start.”

The address posted on the sign was an incorrect address and was reportedly not associated with the minor.

The boy’s mother referred an inquiry into the incident to her attorney, Wes Hammit.

“It would be inappropriate and reckless of me to comment about any criminal allegations involving a minor,” said Hammit in a statement. “Aside from monitoring any statements or reporting to ensure that no defamatory statements are published without consequence, my representation of (the boy’s mother) will be focused regarding the recent, tragic death of her husband, a respected law enforcement officer.”

According to the Madisonville P.D., the minor was caught stealing a Trump sign from Neal’s yard on Madison Street the week of Sept. 10 after a neighbor spotted and reported the license plate number as the involved vehicle drove away.

According to Neal, the incident was seemingly resolved when he was compensated for the stolen sign. However, he said a group of individuals later came to his property on three separate occasions with the same intent.

Neal, however, admitted he did not know if the 14-year-old he named on his makeshift sign had any involvement in the ensuing incidents.

Neal claimed to believe the boy involved in the first incident was associated with the individuals involved in the latter three, but the Madisonville P.D. stated he was at home with his grandmother on the night they received another call from Neal regarding his signs (Oct. 10).

Neal stated he rigged his fence with an electrical charger after one of the latter incidents, resulting in an individual being electrocuted while trying to remove another Trump sign. This, he said, caused them to return the following Saturday wearing gloves.

“The neighbors told me there were guys hanging out (in the bushes),” said Neal. “I cut all them bushes down. Well I’ll be doggoned if they didn't come and jerk the sign off, the big one, and beat it with a rock.”

Neal stated he contacted the police department following one of the latter incidents and did not feel as if they took his inquiry seriously.

“That was public information that I posted,” said Neal. “He got caught and admitted to it, all I did was put the information on a sign.”

The sign is no longer posted on Neal’s property. The Iraq veteran called himself a “concerned citizen” who wants to be left alone. 

There have been a number of reported incidents throughout the county of political signs representing both parties being removed from or defaced on private property.

Over the weekend, a collection of signs promoting former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden were stolen from Ret. Major General Jim Robinson’s property located along FM 1428.

“We are at a point in human history where the country is severely divided, and we need to find a way to heal that division,” said Robinson. “(Sign stealing) is reflective of a value that is totally contrary to American beliefs.”

Robinson served in the National Guard for 27 years, the last three of which he spent as the Commanding General of the Texas State Guard upon appointment from former Governor Bill Clements.

“I always tried to be apolitical (while serving),” said Robinson, who is now retired. “Because when you are actually serving, you have a responsibility to be totally apolitical. You don’t take part in political campaigns and don’t express your opinion to others.”

Robinson stated he has supported conservative candidates in the past but will be voting for Biden this year.

“For many reasons that are shared by numerous retired general officers, the Lincoln Project, and many of President George W. Bush’s cabinet secretaries, I consider (Biden) a far superior choice to (Trump),” said Robinson.

Six double-faced Biden signs were stolen from his property late Saturday, which he assumes were then destroyed. Robinson did not alert law enforcement of the incident.

“I didn't make a report,” said Robinson. “They’re not going to find who did it. Typically, when people destroy signs, they’ll pull one off a telephone pole or remove one someone has placed in the right-of-way. But in this case, they actually opened two different gates on my property, came onto the property, and stole the signs.”

Robinson finds it most disturbing that he has never seen the country as polarized as it is today.

“I have had people express to me that if you don’t support (Trump), you aren’t American, you have to be a communist,” said Robinson. “That is ridiculous. I am very familiar with (Biden) and I would say that people involved with national security consider him to be a very moderate, thoughtful individual.

“(Biden) is not a communist and the world is not going to end if he’s elected, and (Trump) is not God, they are both humans. They have different philosophies. People need to carefully look at everything that is going on and make a thoughtful decision. I feel like I’ve done that based on my knowledge of national security matters.”

Robinson’s ranch has been in his family for over 200 years and his ancestors helped settle Madison County. His grandfather was a Madison County judge and his father served as superintendent of North Zulch schools.