By Terry L. Jones
September 11, 2012
BRUSLY — Mayor Joey Normand found a lot more than just the morning newspaper on his front lawn Sunday.
The mayoral incumbent said Monday that 21 of his campaign signs had been ripped up from the yards of his neighbors on Live Oak Drive in Brusly and tossed on his front lawn during the middle of the night Saturday.
“My wife and I were out of town and we returned home about 11:30 p.m. Saturday night,” Normand said. “At that time all my signs on Live Oak were still in place. Sometime between then and 5 a.m., when my wife woke up to get the morning newspaper, she was startled to find 21 yard signs just thrown in our front yard.”
Officials with the Police Department and West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Department confirmed Monday that an investigation into the incident had been launched.
West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Col. Richie Johnson said tampering with political signs is a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine of up to $500 and six months of jail time. He said the property owners who live on Live Oak who had signs removed also could file trespassing complaints.
“Suppression of free speech and censorship are non-acceptable,” Johnson said Monday.
Johnson also lives on Live Oak Drive and said he has several yard signs posted on his front lawn from various candidates. His Normand signs was also snatched up, he said.
Brusly Police Chief Jamie Whaley said his officers will be conducting interviews with Normand’s neighbors to determine if anyone saw or heard anything suspicious that night.
Normand said that while some people believe the incident could just be a prank by some local teens, he suspects someone with a vendetta against him might have been involved because only his signs were targeted.
Normand, who has no party affiliation, is facing Republican Rusty Daigle in the Nov. 6 mayoral race.
Normand said he has suspicions about who may have been behind the incident but “guarantees” his opponent had nothing to do with it.
“I know Rusty, he’s not that type of person,” he said. “Listen, I came up in Avoyelles Parish where politics is a contact sport. But even in the lowest back-biting campaign there was an unwritten rule that you don’t touch someone else’s sign.”