Gilmanton select board backs down in sign dispute

  • Brett Currier holds up a modified sign that the town of Gilmanton asked him to take down. The sign originally read "WE SUPPORT GILMANTON POLICE EVEN IF THE SELECTMEN DONT," but was modified to also read "Vote yes on Article #31," "Departments budget" and "Political Advertising." Caitlin Andrews

Monitor staff
Saturday, March 03, 2018

The Gilmanton select board has retracted the letters it sent to some residents asking them to take down signs that criticized the board’s relationship with the town’s police department.

The board voted to take the action during a special meeting held Thursday night, according to ACLU-NH legal director Gilles Bissonnette. The vote means residents will be able to keep their signs – which read “WE SUPPORT GILMANTON POLICE EVEN IF THE SELECTMEN DONT.”

The town sent several residents letters asking them to take down the signs on Feb. 14, saying they did not meet local zoning criteria or the state’s definition of political signs. If residents did not remove their signs by Feb. 22, they would be fined $275 for every day the signs remained up, the letters said.

The ACLU became involved after a resident reached out asking for guidance on the issue.

The organization sent a letter to the town asking that the letters be rescinded, stating they violated residents’ rights to freedom of speech. 

The signs were put up by some residents who said they were frustrated with the ongoing tension between the town’s police chief and the select board.