Update, 11:35 a.m.: Barbera responded: "The only way we can determine this is to run every vandalism report we have and read them. This could be labor intensive."
We won't put her through the trouble. For alternate context: of the 140 media alerts I have received from Barbera since November 1, zero were seeking individuals for hanging posters. Zero were regarding vandalism. Most were for crashes, missing persons, and road closures.
As of 11:30, Barbera advised that the department had not identified the "persons of interest" it was seeking.
On Saturday, Therese Barbera, spokesperson for the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office, sent out a media alert advising that deputies were seeking two "persons of interest" who had hung posters saying "black lives matter" on telephone poles. The alert went so far as to include screenshots of video of the "persons of interest" from a security camera.
Yesterday, she folllowed up with another news release, warning reporters in all caps: "DO NOT TAKE WANTING TO SPEAK WITH "PERSONS OF INTEREST" OUT OF CONTEXT!"
Well, you already know the context: Anti-cop sentiment is running high after a series of cases across the country in which police have killed unarmed black men. Cops and their supporters have countered that they do a difficult job in a dangerous world.
Barbera's first media alert, sent December 27, read:
Persons of Interest Wanted for Vandalism in Downtown Lake Worth.
During the early morning hours of Christmas Eve a black male and female were seen affixing posters that say "Black lives matter," "Beware killer cops on the loose," and other posters that offer statistics on how more likely black people are to be shot by police than whites. These posters were affixed on pillars, columns, and light posts near high traffic areas.
Detectives are interested in speaking to these individuals before further violence occurs.
If you can identify these individuals, you are urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS.
Her follow-up yesterday said:
DO NOT TAKE WANTING TO SPEAK WITH "PERSONS OF INTEREST" OUT OF CONTEXT!
This is NOT about freedom of speech. We are not against their first amendment rights. We would like to identify and speak with these "persons of interest" in hopes that they would choose another forum in the future to share their thoughts and feelings.
Affixing posters/signs with sticky adhesive to government property is not acceptable. This is costly to the victims (city government, FPL, etc) to remove.
New Times is requesting incident reports for any other incidents in which PBSO has arrested or cited individuals for hanging posters.