STANDISH — Town and law enforcement officials maintain that there is only so much they can do to curb the continued theft and vandalism of pride and political signs around town, but LGBTQ advocates say officials are not doing enough to condemn these crimes “targeting” minority communities.

“I think the LGBTQ community in our town needs to hear more support from the council. I think that what you see in those votes is what they’re going to get,” Councilor Sarah Gaba said Monday, referring to the split decision in July on her resolution of support for the LGBTQ community in Standish.

The Town Council has largely been silent on the matter except for Gaba’s resolution, which passed 4-3.

“I do believe that that’s certainly unfortunate and sad for those residents and I would advise them to reach out to their councilors,” she said.

Addressing the issue through council action, Gaba said, “is a careful issue, an issue of considering people’s free speech and weighing it fairly.”

Council Chairperson Kim Pomerleau did not return a request for comment.

The intersection of Routes 25 and 35 was crowded with signs the evening before Election Day. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly file photo

Since June when resident Tim Goodwin placed the first of many wooden signs painted with the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ pride flag at Standish Center, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has received 57 incident reports related to them as of Nov. 9, according to Capt. Don Foss of the Criminal Investigations Division.

Five people – two from Standish, two from Gorham and one from Hiram – have been charged with theft or criminal mischief. They range in age from 16 to 72.

Town Manager Bill Giroux said that besides working with the Sheriff’s Office, “there’s not much we can do.”

“Unfortunately, I think there have been many different people that have been misbehaving and I wish they weren’t doing it,” Giroux said Tuesday morning.

Matt Moonen, executive director for EqualityMaine, a Portland-based LGBTQ advocacy group, said Monday that “it’s problematic that the town is being silent.”

The theft and vandalism of pride signs are “targeting. It’s obviously very problematic and very concerning,” he said.

Foss said earlier this month that it’s “a difficult situation to monitor from a law enforcement perspective.”

“There’s limited police complement in any town in normal day-to-day course of business so when you have a new influx of crime in a problem area, you still have to balance that activity with the normal activity, trying to focus your attention on the immediate,” he said.

Goodwin said he filed a citizen’s complaint with the CCSO on Nov. 5 regarding an incident in October, but he declined to share the details of the complaint with the Lakes Region Weekly.

He estimates that over 100 signs have either been stolen or vandalized. He said another one of his signs was destroyed on Nov. 11.

Moonen, currently serving in his fourth term as a state representative from Portland in the Maine House, added that “not only is the town being silent about crime in your town, but also being silent on something where the town voted on marriage equality.”

The majority of Standish residents voted to approve same-sex marriage in 2012.

“You would think the town would be willing to speak on the will of the people,” he said.

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