FFRF Wilkes-Barre banner still not restored

Nine days ago, admitted vandal Joe McDonald climbed thirty feet up a structure on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, PA to slice two ropes holding the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “let reason prevail” holiday freethought banner which was slated to be displayed for one week following city approval [see the video]. Since the vandalism, Wilkes-Barre officials were notified of this vandalism and were well-aware of it because of various letters from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (here is one from 12/24), media coverage, posts on the city’s Facebook page, perhaps personally seeing the downed banner, and much much more. Despite all of this, the banner has not been restored.

Above is a picture taken on the evening of 12/28/12.

On 12/21/12, I contacted the city’s Administrative Coordinator, Drew McLaughlin, concerning the vandalism and asking for the banner to be restored. McLaughlin responded saying that the Department of Public Works — on that day — was limited in staffing and was chiefly addressing power outages, flooding, and downed trees following a night of high winds and rain.

The banner might not have been a high priority [following a night of high winds and rain], but what is the reason for city workers neglecting to restore the banner following 12/21? When the banner was first displayed — one day later than I was told it would be placed — two city workers utilized a vehicle with a cherrypicker and finished their work in about 15 minutes. Restoring the banner, I would imagine, would be an even quicker task because the banner is already hanging there and only two ropes — it seems — need to be affixed.

When will the city restore the banner and allow the FFRF and I to display our message to the public for one week as was initially promised? So far, we have only had one day of our message placed on Public Square for all to see. It’s a real shame — regardless of the holiday season, high winds, low staffing, snow, or whatever else — that this simple matter had not been resolved.

For more information on this matter, read other posts on this site under the category of ‘FFRF banner.’

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University's graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County's Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher's assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.