Local signs spark debate

Some uneasy with message, content

Atticus Raasch

When Junior Colin Perkins walks past the white and blue sign on his lawn every day, he is hopeful for more peaceful relationships between communities and police.
Perkins said he believes the new police signs were created to counteract negative thoughts towards police officers.
“They were created to to show support for SLP police officers,” Perkins said. It’s to tell them they’re doing a good job and they haven’t done anything wrong.”
According to Deputy Chief Kirk DiLorenzo, blue and white signs with the text “Thank you St. Louis Park Police Department” stand in many neighborhood lawns around St. Louis Park.
“I first saw the signs last week,” Dilorenzo said. “I pulled into the station and saw one. I had no idea who created them or how they got there, but there they were.”
Jodi Johnston, a St. Louis Park resident and creator of the signs, said after she conceived the simple idea of the signs, support soon blossomed from friends on Facebook.
“I had the idea just a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never had the opportunity to personally thank the police,” Johnston said. “People told me online that they would totally order the signs, so the idea fell on me and the rest is history.”
Junior Olivia Massie said she believes the signs are a response to efforts made by the Black Lives Matter organization.
“As long as the same yard has a Black Lives Matter (BLM) sign I think they are a great idea,” Massie said. “But I feel like the signs are only in response to BLM and are meant to essentially go against the movement.”
Perkins said he supports the signs for the uplifting message they convey.
“Just to stand up and say there’s still good in light of all the stuff that been happening,” Perkins said. “You hear about these awful things everyday, but these signs help show that there’s still hope.”
Johnston said she believes people should feel safe supporting the police by putting up the signs.
“(The sign) has nothing to do with any other agendas or platforms,” Johnston said. “I think saying ‘thank you’ to someone is a very personal thing.”
Johnston said she made efforts to get the signs up in local schools, but was denied.
“Apparently they said they can’t have any political signs that may stir up a large objection,” Johnston said. “So, I just have to sit back and accept the school’s decision.”
In a letter to city manager Tom Harmening and Chief of Police John Luse, director of communications Sara Thompson said superintendent Robert Metz gave information on the policy and its past uses.
“Because we educate children from nearly every racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious background – including immigrants from all over the world – we take great care to be non-partisan and impartial in all matters that can be considered political,” Metz said.