Anti-war Speech Silenced Across America

Date: 2003

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Public Art

Artist: Sam Nickels, Cindy Hunter, Fred D'Amato

Confronting Bodies: Local residents of Harrisonburg, VA and Mt. Pocono, PA town officials

Date of Action: October 2003

Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia and Mt. Pocono Pennsylvania

Description of Artwork: Sam and Cindy (in Harrisonburg) had a sign posted outside of their house that expressed their opposition to the United States occupation of Iraq in 2003. Fred D'Amato (in Mt. Pocono) also posted a sign outside of his house reading "Support Our Troops, Impeach Bush Admin" in front of an American flag

The Incident: On October 20, 2003, an arsonist set fire to the sign which was attached to the front of Nickels and Hunter's house. The fire spread from the first floor to the attic as their family slept. Fortunately, Hunter, Nickels, their three children and guest roomate escaped the house alive. The fire caused $50,000 in damages. In Mt. Pocono, zoning officer Joseph W. Brady, responded to a complaint against the sign outside of D'Amato's house. Brady responded, telling D'Amato that the sign was illegal and had to be taken down, or else he would be charged a fine of $500 each day it remained, in addition to any court costs. D'Amato removed the sign, but was convinced by his neighbors to replaced it the following day

Results of Incident: A protest was held at James Madison University, where Hunter is a faculty member. One hundred and fifty people participated to support the family and the right to publicly oppose the war. In Mt. Pocono, the town officials allowed D'Amato's sign to stay after the story recieved negative publicity