NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - A Massachusetts man who has had several pro-Trump signs stolen from his front yard over the course of the summer erected a makeshift electrical fence around his latest sign in an effort to ward off potential thieves.
John Oliveira, 54, said six of his Trump/Pence 2020 signs were stolen from his front lawn in New Bedford, Mass., since mid-May, WJAR-TV reported. He said a separate sign next to them that read: “Voice Your Vote. Vote New Bedford” in large letters was never removed.
"It's a shame I have to do this," he told the station. "I believe in the president. Obviously, people didn't like it. Horse wire carries a charge. I mean, it'll certainly send a message."
Oliveira, a 20-year Navy veteran and a member of the New Bedford School Committee, said he filed two police reports about the thefts but decided to take matters into his own hands a few weeks ago, by erecting an about 3.5-foot high triangular electrical fence around a new sign. Since then, the sign remained untouched, he said.
"That's what our country is about. Different opinions and voicing them in a fair and equitable manner. Taking a sign is not fair and equitable," Oliveira, a longtime Democrat who said he recently became a Republican, told WJAR. "You have to be able to respect each other or we won't be able to accomplish anything if we don't. Don't mess with my right to free speech."
A pro-Trump sign with the slogan “Keep America Great” was photographed on his lawn last week. On the wire surrounding it, another message told passersby in English, Spanish and French: “Warning. Electric Fence.”
Oliveira said the fencing is solar-powered, South Coast Today reported.
Oliveira made local news last year for repeatedly using profanity and flipping the middle finger to fellow school committee members during meetings.
He told South Coast Today at the time that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan but would not apologize for his behavior, arguing he ran for the committee on a platform dedicated to breaking the status quo and holding career politicians accountable.