by Steven Ertelt
February 26, 2007
Bonita Springs, FL (LifeNews.com) — A vandal bent on defacing a pro-life billboard had to climb 35 feet in the air to spray-paint a swastika on the advertisement, which is sponsored by a local church. The latest act of vandalism is one in a long line of incidents where abortion advocates have destroyed or defaced pro-life signs or displays.
The sign is located on the East side of U.S. 41, south of Alico Road and is sponsored by Gospel Baptist Church.
It features a photograph of a beautiful 3-month old baby and the words "Please don’t abort me" and the church initially paid for the sign 10 months ago.
“Somebody just painted a swastika over the face of the kid,” Senior Pastor Bill Lytell to the News Press. “We’re suffering persecution for freedom of speech.”
He told the newspaper he thought the sign was deliberately targeted.
“It’s so high, I guess 35 feet high,” he said. “It’s precarious getting up there. Graffiti people put gang names. A swastika is universal.”
This isn’t the first time the church has had problems regarding its sign.
It leases the sign from Lamar Advertising a national company that rents out thousands of billboards. Lamar previously denied the church permission to display a sign with the message “Abortion Kills Babies.”
Lytell told the newspaper the church plans to replace the sign but Lamar General Manager Bill Condon told the newspaper that his company will pay to either clean the sign or replace it with a new one.
“I will get my operations folks on it as fast as possible,” Condon said. “We’re going to address it immediately. It’s not a message, of course, that we want out there.”
Sgt. Larry King of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office told the newspaper the criminal responsible for the vandalism could get 60 days to five years in prison and anywhere from a $500 to $5,000 fine.
In December 2004, a pro-life billboard promoting a pregnancy helpline in South Venice, Florida, was vandalized.
The billboard read: "Right to life and liberty begins at conception. Pregnant? We can help."
"The important parts of the sign, such as the baby’s face, the phone number, and the church’s name were covered with paint," Tulla Hunt, director of client relations for the pregnancy hotline told LifeNews.com. "It also looked like someone splashed buckets of red paint on the sign. It was later entirely covered with brown paint, so it is now a blank sign."
Hunt said that prior to the vandalism the hotline had received a number of "hang-up" phone calls, but "nothing out of the ordinary" has taken place since the sign was painted over.
Last year, hundreds of signs supporting South Dakota’s abortion ban were destroyed or vandalized, a professor at Northern Kentucky University lost her job after she led a group of students in destroying a pro-life display, and students at Harvard and numerous other colleges saw their pro-life displays vandalized as well.