Racist sign causes concern in Abbotsford - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Racist sign causes concern in Abbotsford

This is the message that has been taken down. This is the message that has been taken down.

 By Anna Carrera - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

ABBOTSFORD (WAOW) -- A racist message written on an Abbotsford storefront: Representatives from the city said it's a balance between free speech and property rights.

The man who put the sign up said he has a right to put whatever he wants on the store he is trying to open. But a local woman said he took his freedoms too far.

"They don't like change in these small towns," said hopeful store-owner Mark Prior. "They like a calm sea. And I'm like a wave in their river."

 People in the area stop driving to look at his windows and new signs appear everyday.

"It's a message board. That's how I relate to people," said Prior. "You tick me off, your name's going to be on there."

But a local woman said one of his signs went too far.

 "There are little kids that go to the library and how do you explain that to them? It's just it's wrong," said Melissa Thomas, who lives in Colby.

Mark Prior said he's not trying to offend anybody. He said had a bad experience and instead of naming names, he made a sign. But when Thomas' son pointed it out to her, she said she couldn't let it go.

"They wouldn't like it if it was done to them and it's wrong and you have to say something somebody has to say something," said Thomas.

 When police asked him to take it down, city leaders said he didn't put up a fight.

 Abbotsford's mayor said, "There is a delicate balance between private property rights and an individual's right to freedom of speech and the rights of those who deem the words as offensive and inappropriate."

"And if I offended somebody, I'm sorry about that," said Prior. "But this is America and this is my right."

"It is a free country and that's what's great about it but the freedom is for everybody," said Thomas.

Abbotsford's mayor said the city does not condone racism and they are taking this situation seriously. She said any further action will be determined by ordinance or through the judicial system.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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