Strange happenings in Douglas County

James Bell, a community activist in Douglas County that instrumental in defeating a SPLOST proposal last year, was arrested on Monday for removing campaign signs from a beautification area known as the “Dogwood Strip,” which is owned by Norfolk Southern.

Bell says that he had asked candidates not to put signs in this particular location, but they clearly didn’t listen. I should point out that Bell also runs Lithia Springs Clean and Beautiful, which has hosted various community clean up projects. He asked the Douglas County Board of Commissioners for help, but nothing was offered.

After Bell removed the signs, three Republican candidates pressed charges and the county issued warrants for his arrest.

During all of this the Douglas County Board of Commissioners suspended all sign rules, but when the county was pressed to reveal when and why the rules were suspended, county officials claimed they “misspoke” and back off their claims.

During a conversation with Bell, a Douglas County commissioner revealed that “exceptions are made” during campaigns season concerning enforcement of political signs. Bell expressed his concern that selective enforcement was being used and told the commissioner that the law should be enforced equally, considering the fact that there are state, county and city laws and ordinances that prohibit placing signs on right-of-ways and private property

Bell is facing 3 years in prison and plans to fight for his freedom.


  1. eburke says:

    Why hasn’t Douglas County issued citations against those who put up the signs in violation of the ordinance. This kind of stuff makes me sick of the Republicans who used to uphold law and order, local government, respect for privat property and generally playing by the rules. Mr. Bell was wrong for taking the law into his own hands when he couldn’t get the County or the candidates to respect the law. But I have trouble respecting a candidate who has no respect for law or private property.

  2. Rick Day says:

    Mister Bell was NOT wrong in cleaning up those signs. Mr. Bell practiced due diligence in using every aspect of The System ™ to seek remedy.

    I want to know who the three so-called “conservative Republican” candidates using The System ™ to intimidate and harass this libertarian activist.

    I know James Bell pretty well. He did 10 yrs for the crime of organizing the first Georgia NORML chapter. We have better things to do with The System ™ than to give cronies a free ride concerning sign laws.

    The law is the damn law, people. If The System ™ will not enforce it, the people will.

  3. Bill Greene says:

    Republicans who used to uphold law and order… and generally playing by the rules.


    That’s only if the rules benefit them. If not, then many of them feel that it’s OK to bend them, break them, suspend them, ignore them, whatever it takes to get their intended result.

    Welcome to the new GOP. I fear for my party.

  4. AubieTurtle says:

    Reminds me of the Ron Paul supporters who plastered his stickers and signs all over the place, on property both public and private. At least on public property they have a shaky (and wrong) claim that it belongs to them as much as anyone else so it is ok. But each time I see an ATM with a Ron Paul sticker on it, I wonder if the person who put it there has the slightest clue what Ron Paul stands for. I’m pretty sure taking private property of others to achieve the goals of the vandals isn’t in his platform.

    As far as campaign signs go, they’re really really stupid. Yes, just like any other form of image advertising, the goal is to get the candidate’s name out in front of the public as many times as possible. It is really sad that they have any effect on the results of the election. Campaign signs tell you virtually nothing about a candidate that the voter shouldn’t already know if they put in at least five minutes of research before voting. Sadly, that’s too much work for a large percentage of the voting public.

    Campaign signs should be treated just like dog poop. When deciding if it is ok to place a sign or let your dog squat out some droppings, there is one question to ask: Do I own this land or have express permission from the owner? If the answer is no, move along! At least some of the dog owners will pick up after their animals, which is more than can be said for the campaign droppings of most politicians.

  5. Rpolitic says:

    The fact is this shoudl be an ethics violation at best. The criminalization of political campaigns is a scary thing. And for Republicans to do it even scarier.

    The fact is campaigns are full contact sports. It ain’t pretty but it seems to have worked for the last couple hundred years.

  6. Dave Bearse says:

    The only thing Bell is guilty of is trespassing on Norfolk Southern property, the same crime committed by the candidates or their agents that placed the signs on NS property if they didn’t have NS permission, a virtual certainty.

  7. A Typical White Person says:

    In the old days, something like the Southeastern Legal Foundation could have possibly been relied upon to take an interest in a case like this regarding unequal application of the law.

    BUT, that was in the days before SELF became just another tool for ultra-religious Republican issues.

  8. BradFinATL says:

    There’s only a couple other notes on this.

    James Bell has, for over 10 years, been involved in the cleanup of Dogwood strip along with other civic groups. These groups have arranged special permission from the railroad to beautify the area and keep it clean. There are several newspaper clippings that outline this history.

    There was a sign at Dogwood Strip, stating no posting was allowed at the strip.

    Norfolk Southern has a policy of no signs on their property.

    Ga State Law states no campaign signs ever in the right of way of state or federal highways, as a safety issue.

    Local County ordinances claim all signs must be on private property at least 6 feet from the right of way.

    Local County exempts campaigns from any sign laws.

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