I would like to better understand the point behind the two photos and their captions, which were shown juxtaposed on page A6 of the Oct. 3 issue of the Town Crier. The upper photo shows four people holding anti-Trump posters in front of a large “Trump 2020” banner, which appears to be mounted behind a chain link fence and is presumably on private property. The caption below this photo names the people who are “exercising their rights” by protesting the banner’s message. The second photo shows a couple of people behind the fence taking down the “Trump 2020” banner, as the caption to this photo tersely points out.
Who took down the “Trump 2020” banner and why? Was it removed by someone who disagreed with its message? Was the person who originally put it up so bullied and intimidated by protesters that he/she removed it for fear of reprisal? I am very disturbed that these photos seem to celebrate the freedom of one side to proclaim its views, while denying that same freedom for the opposing view. That is not freedom of speech, and the protesters in the top photo look old enough to know that.
I fear the Town Crier may be developing a divisive political bias. That bias (on both sides) is everywhere else in the media, and it’s the last thing I want to see in my hometown newspaper! It may feel like everyone in town agrees with the folks shown protesting, but that’s mainly because people with liberal views tend to be open and up front about them, as your protesters clearly are. Those with conservative views may seem thin on the ground simply because they keep their mouths shut for reasons clearly demonstrated by your pair of photos. The Town Crier would best serve its diverse readership by staying out of the fray altogether.
Editor’s note: The sign was a large part of the local conversation. The banner violated Riverside County ordinance 806. The property owner, Jason “Jay” Johnson, commented on the removal of the sign on Facebook: “A quick note to let you all know I’m the owner of the property. It was not Village Market’s idea to take the sign down. Village Market had nothing to do with the sign. I support all the commanders and chiefs. I do believe Trump is doing a wonderful job. I assure you, I had more positive reviews than negative. I believe in the constitution. Obviously, there are many people that want to change it, but I’m not one of them. I respect all your views. A few of you believe that the sign was hurting our town. That’s the only reason I took it down. Last thing I want to do is hurt the community.”

Kerry Manos,
Mountain Center