If you’ve been in Downtown Turlock at the intersection of Broadway and Main Street recently, chances are you have viewed the political signs in the window of the corner building. The signs, which had sayings such as “End Medicare – Vote Republican” and “Kill the Pill” received various responses from community members. Some Turlock residents believed the signs were real, and had made comments in agreement with the political message on the windows, while others were left confused by the windows messages, as they were uncertain whether it was a real political campaign or a sham. As for those who believed the messages were obvious mockeries of the Republican Party, they were correct.
Unfortunately, the windows have since been vandalized and broken out. Whether the vandalism was a random act, from someone who thought it was supporting Republican agendas and disagreed, or from someone disagreeing with Democrat sarcasm; property co-owner Joe Fernandez, who had the signs placed, believes the vandalism to be an act against freedom of speech.
“I’m just bringing the issues out to the forefront,” stated Fernandez. “My message is just curved a little different than most people.”
Fernandez stated that he knew the signs would create some negative reactions from community members, as the political climate in the area is one with a strong right-wing conservative agenda.
Fernandez also stated that Stanislaus County and Turlock has an element of the GOP that would resort to the act of vandalizing property should anyone talk ill of a Republican, or the political party itself, as he sees the political atmosphere in the Valley to be too extreme to even consider other ways of thinking.
Although Fernandez did not file a police report on the matter, he did take it upon himself to make sure his political message was not silenced by putting up temporary plywood signs in place of the windows, with the spray-painted message stating, “REALLY! VANDALISM AND VIOLENCE TO SURPRESS MY FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN TURLOCK! BE CAREFUL, BERLIN DID THAT IN THE 1940s.”
Fernandez, who has been involved in politics in various forms, including endorsing AND financially contributing to local politicians, stated that through his own experience of following politics and the GOP, he is well aware that it can often lead to some form of violence.
“I’ve been involved in politics, I’ve put my opinion out there, and I stand on what I say,” stated Fernandez. “And I know there’s an element to the GOP that always resorts to violence.”
Fernandez stated that his signs were intended to spur debate amongst community members, as he wanted to challenge the general way of thinking and political ideology that most Turlock residents obtain. He also explained that Republicans can put their signs all over town, but once Fernandez puts up his own political signs on the corner of Broadway and Main, then “suddenly that’s not okay.”
Fernandez also shared that he had received phone calls on his personal cell phone from anonymous individuals telling him to “take that [stuff] down, because we don’t like it.”
“Being a Democrat here in this town is out of the ordinary,” stated Fernandez. “Especially as a businessman.”
“I’m very political, and I’m very outspoken, so I’d never back down,” stated Fernandez.