This story was written by Caroline Turner, Daily Mississippian
As Oxford resident Shelley Diaz was leaving her house on the morning of July 12, she discovered the Barack Obama political sign in her front yard had been vandalized.
"I saw the sign as I was walking out my front door with my son," Diaz said. "My next thought was literally 'I cannot raise my son here.'"
The sign supporting the campaign of 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama was completely burned and left standing in Diaz's front yard with nothing left but charred remains.
The incident caused Diaz to rethink her perception of Oxford, she said.
"The thought that this community has not developed to those morals and goals to the extent that I originally perceived gives me great pause," she said.
However, Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said signs are often stolen or vandalized during both local and national elections.
It may or may not be a threatening gesture, but it is definitely something frowned upon, he said.
Local vandalism of presidential support is nothing new to the Oxford community.
In the midst of the 2004 presidential campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry, The Daily Mississippian reported a break in at the Lafayette Co. Republican campaign headquarters in Fall 2004.
Automobile decals supporting Democratic candidate Kerry and his running mate John Edwards were removed from many vehicles in Oxford and at the university in the time leading up to the 2004 election.
"This may be a prank by youth," Diaz said. "Although that type of activity is less serious than a meaningful threat of further violence, it is still very troubling."
Martin said that even if the sign burning was a prank it is considered as malicious mischief.
Martin added that the crime is considered a a misdemeanor, and suspects could end up having to pay as much as three times the price of the defaced property if convicted.
Although Diaz said she has since calmed down, she said the open-mindedness and morality of the Oxford community is a very important factor in deciding whether or not she remains in town once she graduates law school.
Campus News Editor Alex McDaniel contributed information to this story.