Trump Campaign Signs Being Stolen Due To TikTok Challenge
Police in Lake Mary in Florida have taken the unusual step of asking TikTok users to stop stealing campaign signs in response to a challenge issued on the social media site. While sign stealing and removal (on both sides of politics) is not unusual in an election year, this time the police are sheeting the blame for an increase in sign stealing to the social media app TikTok.
An officer with the Florida police has said that over 6.8 million people have viewed TikTok videos online that challenge viewers to remove campaign signs and pointed out that this is in fact a crime. They discovered the trend after interviewing a suspect who told them that there was a challenge encouraging people to steal Trump campaign signs in their local neighborhood. They were also encouraged to steal as many signs as possible and to record a video of the activity according to the suspect.
Apparently at least 24 Trump campaign signs and a Trump flag have been stolen to date in the Lake Mary area and police are appealing to teenagers not to participate in this type of activity since it is a crime to take other people's property and could result in a maximum 6 month jail term for serious offenders. While theft and vandalism laws vary between states, most states treat stealing political signs as a misdemeanor which will only result in a fine rather than jail time. Similar to a speeding ticket, such fines are likely to range from $50 to $500 dollars.
While a specific name for the challenge hasn't been found, videos of people poking fun at the activity of stealing the signs are readily available on the app and no videos actually identify a person committing the act of stealing campaign material from someone else's property. Some posts contain videos showing the signs they have stolen and include captions that threaten to steal the neighbor's signs again if they replace them. Others state that the contents of posts are in jest or 'just a metaphor'.
Sign stealing is, in the end, an attempt to stifle people's First amendment rights to political expression, according to some commentators and state that no-one has the right to stifle free speech about politics in this way whether they agree with the signs or not (or are simply teenagers playing a prank).
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