Charge dismissed following sign removal from Augusta County Sheriff’s Office
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney dismissed a charge against David Bourne who was accused of taking a sign which has an attribution to the Black Lives Matter of the Shenandoah Valley from a public right-of-way in front of the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office in Verona.
On Thursday, Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith sent a press release to local media stating Bourne received a summons for removing signs from the area.
According to Smith, two signs calling attention to him were in front of the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday along with pro-law enforcement signs, Black Lives Matter signs and numerous flags.
“Normally, you do not see me get involved with Nexus’ propaganda tactics. However, the media has requested information regarding signs that were “stolen” from in front of the ACSO,” Smith said in part of a press release which you can read below.
According to Smith, all of the signs and flags were taken from the Sheriff’s Office around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday but were later left at the entrance of the building that same day.
On Thursday, Smith said Antwhon Suiter obtained a summons for Bourne for removing the signs.
One of the signs had a GPS tracking device camera owned by Nexus in the sign’s wooden frame, according to the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office. The agency said Mike Donovan, CEO of Nexus, picked up the signs from the Sheriff’s office on Thursday.
However on Friday afternoon, Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin released a statement saying Bourne reached out to Martin’s office to ask if it was allowed to take down signs that had been placed on public property and subsequently left behind.
“He was told that removal of such signs was non-criminal. Following this conversation, a number of signs and other items which had been abandoned in the grass strip between the ACSO parking lot and Route 11, which is public property, were removed. The signs expressed a variety of viewpoints, some pro-ACSO and some against. All of the signs were collected, bagged, and returned to the ACSO later that day,” Martin said.
Martin added Suiter and Scott Cline had made complaints to law enforcement regarding the theft of the Black Lives Matter sign and the GPS tracking device in side of it.
“Mr. Cline indicated to the Virginia State Police that he had placed a tracking device in the hollowed out Black Lives Matter sign, and tracked it after it was removed from the public right of way. Ultimately Nexus Services CEO Mike Donovan came to pick up the Black Lives Matter of Shenandoah Valley sign Mr. Suiter and Mr. Cline had complained about,” Martin said.
Martin moved to dismiss the charge against Bourne saying he correctly believed his conduct was non-criminal and sought clarification as to what the law entailed before he acted.
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