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Circle K protest signs vandalized

April of 2019 was the first time the residents in East Medford became aware of the plans for a Circle K complex to be built on the vacant lot on the northeast corner of East McAndrews and Springbrook roads.

The residents of this area fully understood the negative ramifications of such a complex in their neighborhood. They submitted over 1,000 petition signatures asking our city government to deny the project. The project was eventually approved by our City Council in August of 2019. Our opposition to the project continues and is visibly on display with signs strictly placed in homeowners’ yards or on their fences that say “Boycott Circle K.” No signs have been put up on the Circle K property.

A group of concerned neighbors last October started going door-to-door to see who would be interested in buying and displaying a sign. The cost of the signs was $10 each. Several of the residents contributed over $100. They wanted the less fortunate who could not afford to buy a sign to be able to display one if they chose. Eventually, $3,000 was collected to purchase 300 signs. This shows the commitment and dedication of the homeowners of this neighborhood to hopefully persuade Colvin Oil to find a more suitable commercial location.

The signs have been up for seven months now. Over the first several months, we replaced roughly 30 to 40 signs because of theft and/or vandalism. This past month, the number of signs taken and/or defaced has increased dramatically. The homeowners are now tired of looking the other way on this matter and have recently reported numerous incidents to the Medford Police Department with little or no response. In fact, one of these incidents was observed and captured by security cameras.

Additional video recordings show the largest percentage of stolen or damaged signs are committed by juveniles under the cover of darkness. Each sign lost is a violation of two laws: trespassing and vandalism/theft. In addition, the curfew law is being violated with these juveniles being on the streets after midnight. On top of that, you can add a fourth violation of the law. This time a federal law is being committed. On on several occasions, they have gone into homeowners’ mailboxes and thrown their mail all over the place.

When can the homeowners of this neighborhood expect an increase in nighttime patrols by the MPD to help resolve these crimes? Hopefully, these juveniles can be detained and questioned. We hope the MPD can stop these individuals from taking and defacing our signs and encourage them to right their lives and become productive citizens of our community and city.

The signs have been and will continue to be an expression of our neighborhood’s right of freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment and furthermore complies with the city of Medford municipal code guidelines.

MPD: Please help!

Gary Sumrak lives in Medford.

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