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November 04, 2008

Polling Place Polemics

Stevesign_2 From our correspondent Kevin J. Kelley, who will be reporting from various locales in Burlington throughout this Election Day:

At the Barnes School, Old North End activist Steve Ekberg caused a stir this morning with a large poster atop a pole reading on one side "STUPID SHEEP – ARREST OBAMA!"  and displaying on the reverse a photo of a maimed Iraqi child with the caption "OBAMA DID THIS."

Some voters complained about that image's proximity to children at the school. Disagreements ensued, with Burlington police officers eventually decreeing that no political signs could be displayed in the Barnes parking lot. Ekberg and activists holding signs in support of various candidates were instructed to stand on the sidewalk rather than on school grounds.

Kevin Ryan, a Ward 3 resident, said the anti-Obama placard went "beyond community borders." But Ryan, who said he had voted for Douglas and John McCain, also noted that Ekberg "has a First Amendment right to make the statement he wants to make."

A few voters stopped to talk with Ekberg as they left the Barnes polling place. None expressed hostility over the placard and a couple took Ekberg's handout that claims Obama twice voted in the Senate in support of the Iraq war.

Ekberg urged his listeners to back any third-party candidate who opposes wars. "I feel very strongly about children being maimed by a war that Obama voted for," he said.

Photo by Matthew Thorsen.

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