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Sticker shock

Dennis Webb

In a case of being caught red-handed – or at least caught with red marker in hand – Glenwood police cited a 72-year-old woman last week after she defaced an anti-Bush bumper sticker on a vehicle while the owner was inside and the engine was running.Patricia Sprague of Carbondale was issued a summons on a misdemeanor charge of criminal tampering and released after the alleged vandalism of the bumper sticker Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of the Roaring Fork Marketplace. If convicted, she could face fines of up to $1,000 or a year in jail.Janet Principe, the car’s owner, said the sticker said “Defend America, Defeat Bush.”Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said Sprague was clear in her intentions.”She told us that she’d just seen so much on the TV and was just sick and tired of it and when she saw that bumper sticker she couldn’t take it anymore,” Wilson said.Wilson said Sprague defaced the sticker even as Principe honked the horn in an effort to stop her.”She was not going to be deterred. … There was no intention of being sneaky. She wasn’t trying to do something to get away with it,” he said.Principe said she saw Sprague hesitate at the car, then go to her own vehicle, apparently to retrieve the marker, before returning.Sprague said when she confronted Sprague, Sprague cussed her out and complained about Republican yard signs being vandalized.”It looks like the Republicans are vandalizing, to me,” Principe said.Republicans and Democrats alike have complained about tampering with signs and bumper stickers this election season, but Wilson said there have been fewer complaints of such acts in Glenwood Springs this year than during past elections.He said Sprague’s actions stepped over the lines of acceptable political protest. No matter how contentious this election season becomes, people shouldn’t infringe on others’ right to free speech, Wilson said.”We should all respect that. That’s part of what our country and laws are all about. I guess I have a hard time when they get so tweaked about it that they tamper with other people’s property,” he said.”They should vent and express by voting their conscience. That’s the whole intention of the thing, and really, that’s the only appropriate outlet.”Wilson called the age of the alleged perpetrator “a little bit out of the ordinary.” “We don’t get an awful lot of 72-year-olds for violations,” he said.Principe said she was surprised to see someone her mom’s age defacing her car. But she added, “How old do you think people are that vote for Bush? That’s the age group.”Police cited Sprague at the scene, and Wilson said she “was very cooperative” with them.”She walked right up to them and said, ‘Yeah, I did it.'”Still, handling senior citizens as accused criminals “can be quite intimidating to a 23-year-old cop, let me tell you,” Wilson said. “It’s a strange sensation, dealing with them in the role of perpetrator. I don’t think they cover that in the academy.”Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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