Accused Sign Stealer Says Issue "Has Gotten Out of Hand"
A woman charged with stealing political signs says she doesn’t view her actions as wrong.
Heidi Smith Thompson, 44, of West End, was charged earlier this week with the larceny of political signs and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after a witness saw her take an anti-Amendment One sign.
“I completely believe it was the right thing to do,” Thompson said. “Breaking the law, if you do it for God, makes it right.”
She said she knows others won’t agree.
(A letter from Thompson appears on Page B2 of Sunday's print edition of The Pilot.)
“We stand for what we believe in,” she said. “We are a strong faith family, whether you see it as stealing, or however society sees it, I see it as standing for what I believe in, God.”
Thompson said she also thinks the matter, has “gotten way out of hand,” and has “gone too far,” and that she is being persecuted for her actions.
She said she fears for the safety of her family after she has received derogatory phone calls and hate emails in recent days.
One email called her “disgusting” and told her to “Go TO HELL!”
“I had to sleep last night with my gun beside my bed,” she said. “That’s how scared I was for my family.”
Police charged Thompson earlier this week after a witness observed Thompson and her 11-year-old daughter taking anti-Amendment One political signs from the intersection of Morganton Road and N.C. 5 about 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.
Signs are stolen every political season, but this is the first time anyone in Pinehurst has been charged for doing so, Pinehurst police said this week.
Thompson said at the time she and her daughter decided to take the signs as a retaliatory measure for stolen pro-Amendment One signs.
“My daughter said, ‘Hey, momma, let’s pick those signs up. They’ve been taking ours down,’ So we picked them up.”
She said she wasn’t surprised when police contacted her about the incident.
“I saw the guy following me,” she said. “I knew he was following me because he saw me take the sign up.”
Police said Thomson admitted to taking three signs and has returned them.
Thompson said at the time she took the signs she didn’t see it as violating anyone’s free speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.
“At the time I didn’t see it that way,” she said. “I just saw it as they are taking my signs up, I’ll take their signs up.”
She said a discussion with a pastor friend has helped her better understand the issue.
Stealing, vandalizing, defacing or unlawfully removing a lawfully placed political sign in North Carolina is a Class 3 misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is 20 days in jail. Fines for Class 3 misdemeanor convictions can be as high as $200.
The Amendment One measure on the May 8 primary ballot would change the North Carolina Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman only and declares it as the only valid union in North Carolina.
Thompson is adamant about her beliefs that marriage is “one man and one woman” and “anyone on the other side is wrong.”
“I know I am going to suffer persecution over this,” she said. “There are people out there that hate me and probably wanted me dead because I picked up a sign from the side of the road, which I think is ridiculous.”
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