Paint splatters appear on a pro-life billboard at 67th Street and Gaetz Avenue in Red Deer. (Contributed photo).

Red Deer man denounces vandalism to pro-life billboard

Sign at 67th and Gaetz appears damaged by paint splatters

A Red Deer man was driving to work when he noticed a pro-life billboard had been defaced by what looks like black splatters from a paint balloon.

Although random vandalism happens, Colin Niziol suspected this billboard was specifically targeted for it’s pro-life message since no other signs in the area were damaged.

In fact, this is the second time in two months that this billboard has been targeted and defaced, said Jackie DeGroot, a secretary with Red Deer Pro-life, which paid for the sign at 67 St. and Gaetz Avenue.

Although the group tried to use inoffensive images of a baby and a grandmother and the slogan “let the beat go on,” DeGroot said some vandals had previously apparently taken issue with this and scrawled a pro-choice message across the billboard in July.

Since it already had to be replaced once at a cost of about $1,200, she’s disheartened that the billboard was vandalized again this week.

DeGroot understands that recent changes in some U.S. states that restrict or outlaw abortions have inflamed emotions, but she believes every group has a right to get its message out.

Pro-choice supporters can pay for their own billboards, she added, “instead of destroying our right to free speech.”

While Niziol is not a member of the pro-life group, he believes in its stance and is disturbed that somebody would show opposition in this destructive way.

“There’s a lot of vandalism happening in Red Deer and it’s becoming more of a nuisance. There seems to be no regard for private property,” said Niziol, who emailed Red Deer Pro-Life about the paint damage after he noticed it Monday.

DeGroot said the sign company has already notified police, but it will be hard to find a suspect if no one saw the vandals.

The group’s board will discuss what to do about the on-going billboard damage at its meeting next month.

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