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.