$1,500 reward for identification of vandal
Winter Solstice sign destroyed over holiday weekend
Just days after being announced as the winner of a nationwide Atheist award, Shelton resident Jerry Bloom said he was not surprised to hear that his Winter Solstice sign, which he fought the city for the right to display on the Huntington Green, had been vandalized.
Bloom sued the city of Shelton earlier this year after being told he couldn’t put up his Winter Solstice sign in Constitution Park next to Post 16’s annual display of trumpet-playing angels.
The story advanced when city told Bloom that signs were not permitted within Constitution Park, but that he could have it on display within the Huntington Green for two weeks.
When Bloom visited the Huntington Green on Dec. 26 to take down his sign, he said he was upset to find, but not surprised to see that it had been vandalized.
The sign has since been removed but read, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
Emergency Services Director Mike Maglione responded to the Huntington Green for a report of the sign being vandalized Friday, Dec. 23 at nearly 9 p.m.
Upon his arrival, he said he witnessed a man dressed in black running away from the scene to an unknown location. No surveillance cameras were said to have captured an image of the suspected vandal.
According to Carey Shaw of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, The FFRF (ffrf.org) have posted a $1,500 reward for the arrest and conviction of the vandal of the Solstice sign on the Huntington Green.
Bloom said shortly after discovering that his sign had been vandalized, he contacted the Shelton Police only to learn that it had been vandalized once before.
“The officer I spoke with told me that it had also been reported vandalized days ago,” said Bloom. “When he saw the sign this afternoon he said it looked better when it was first reported.”
Bloom described the damage done to the sign as “slashes” from a “razor-blade”.
“It appears as if they went back and tried to rip it open even wider apart,” said Bloom.
He said he doesn’t think the vandalism is a reflection of the views of the people within the city.
“It only took a few people who were displeased with it, and who had the balls, for this to happen,” said Bloom.
Bloom was recognized late last week as the recipient of the American Atheist Connecticut Activist of the Year Award, for his efforts in getting the Winter Solstice sign displayed on the Huntington Green.
Connecticut State Director of American Atheists Dennis Paul Himes weighed in on Bloom receiving the award. American Atheists is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers, works for the total separation of church and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.
"What especially impressed me about Jerry Bloom's actions, is that he took them without knowing that there's an Atheist community in Connecticut to draw on for help. He stood up for what was right and prevailed, even though he thought he was alone in his efforts. Since then, the Atheist community and he have discovered each other, and we are now proud to call him one of us."
“I was surprised to hear that I had won the award because I didn’t think my actions were that extraordinary, but I’m more disappointed to learn that my sign was vandalized,” said Bloom.
He said he’s continuing his work with the Freedom From Religion Foundation to address another religious based sign currently in the city.
“As you may or may not be aware of there currently is a sign that reads ‘God bless Shelton Police outside of their station… We’re trying to devise the most cost-free and diplomatic means of having the sign removed by the town,” said Bloom.
He said he is currently writing up a letter to the police department and learned that he is the first to report any issue with it.
Police are continuing to investigate the damage done to the sign and ask that anyone with information contact the department.