A 59-year-old California man who refused to unplug a flashing neon lawn sign protesting Mormonism and attacking Mitt Romney's "racist heart" was arrested and sent to jail on Monday.
Steven Showers, who erected the 14-foot sign last August in front of his Newbury Park, Calif., home was recently convicted of eight misdemeanor zoning code violations for the display. He had until 5 p.m. on June 26 to comply with a judge's order to unplug the sign. But Showers, who describes himself as a Republican and a Christian, refused.
At a hearing at Ventura County Superior Court on Monday, Showers refused to sign an agreement to turn off the lights that would have kept him out of jail. Bail was set at $5,000, according to Ventura County Superior Court records, and Showers was remanded into custody of the Ventura County Jail. His next court date is scheduled for July 15.
Showers told the Ventura County Star last year that while researching the then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he was "stunned to find out that the Mormon religion is a white supremacist, anti-black, racist ideology."
The custom sign promotes Showers' website, RomneysRacistHeart.com, which documents his ongoing battle with county officials. A postelection update reads:
I stood up and I gave it my best effort, with the neon sign installation that I built in my front yard, to make sure that the Monster of Mormon Racism did not make it into the White House. The election was close, but this important goal was achieved. Mitt Romney was defeated, and a great victory was won against this bold attempt to resurrect racism in America. It is my hope and belief that my efforts with my neon sign and Romneys Racist Heart Dot Com contributed in some small way to that victorious outcome.
However, after the election, I find that I am being carried into court on a wave of partisan anger and retaliation, to face criminal charges for my efforts in this regard. That's right, criminal charges that hold the threat of jail time over my head.
Showers says he was first ordered to appear in court on Nov. 16, 2012, to address the alleged building code violations. He showed up in a monk's robe:
I mounted a shield onto my shepherd's staff, and pasted onto that shield the text of Article 1, Section 2, of the California Constitution's Declaration of Rights. This is to signify my unwavering conviction that this constitutional safeguard is supposed to shield my free speech and publishing rights from any effort of the California State Government to suppress those rights. One Deputy Sheriff stopped me to make sure the shield was plastic. Once he was sure it was plastic, he let me pass.