Friday, September 18, 2009

Man Charged Over Obama 'Joker' Posters

A Houston man said police were called and citations were issued because of his posters of President Barack Obama, KPRC-TV reported Wednesday. Mark Fuhre, 21, admits to hanging the controversial signs, which prompted concern for different reasons from neighbors, police and political party leaders. Fuhre said he was detained by police after posting the signs around his neighborhood. The signs depict the president with his face painted like the Joker from Batman. As he posted nearly 20 signs near Kingwood and Forest Gardens, he said he got a wide range of reactions from drivers. "Words of encouragement. We got a few people coming by screaming ridiculous things such as 'Racist.' It has nothing to do with racism," Fuhre said. Fuhre said one man who saw what he was doing voiced his anger and called the police. Fuhre alleged that once he arrived at his home, he was met by seven officers. "They slammed me against the hood of my car, cuffed me, threw me in the back of the car. I'm in my own driveway at this point and time," he said.He was not arrested, but said he and his friend received tickets for criminal mischief and vandalism. Now, he said he believes his right to free speech was violated. "It's the constitution of the United States, which is being forgotten," Fuhre said. "Everyone should have their liberties." Kim Hammond, a member of a local Democratic group, lives in the area where Fuhre was posting the signs. She said she spent time taking them down. "This is graffiti. This is vandalism," Hammond said. Hammond said it is not the message, but the hazard that some of the signs were creating. "It is very hard to find somebody who is pro-Obama in this neighborhood. I think they were targeted because they were involved in criminal mischief," Hammond said. Fuhre said he was posting the signs with his friends to win a cash prize in a video contest sponsored by an anti-socialism Web site. Fuhre said neither he nor his friends have filed a formal complaint against the officers. Police said they could not confirm or deny Fuhre's claims.