‘Homeless’ Jesus signs invade downtown
Slathered with glue, plastered on mailboxes, store fronts — even on the base of a $16,000 work of art on the corner of Fifth and Main streets — are anonymous signs proclaiming “Jesus was homeless.”
The unattributed signs popped up all over downtown Grand Junction on Monday morning, annoying those charged with removing them and stirring thought in others.
“It is as much a statement advocating reverence for Jesus as well as (the idea that) homeless people have worth,” said Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca.
It was the second time the Mesa County Courthouse, on the corner of Sixth Street and Rood Avenue, was tagged with the 9-by-11-inch signs. The first time the signs appeared was a few months ago and, just like Monday, they were a pain to remove.
“I hope they catch those people by the cuff of the collar and make them clean it up,” Acquafresca said.
In lieu of apprehending the perpetrators, Becky Brehmer, owner of the Blue Moon Bar and Grill, on the corner of Seventh and Main streets, said it took 20 minutes and a razor blade to remove the sign stuck to the restaurant’s front door.
The signs offer a mixed message.
“I’m not sure exactly what the message is,” said Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock after seeing one.
“Certainly there is homelessness here.”
Maybe homeless people understand the signs?
“I think they speak the truth,” said 49-year-old Donald Martinez, who has been homeless for two years.
“We are all human.”
Martinez was collecting empty soda cans for beer money with three other men Monday. His fellow collectors took a less philosophical view of the signs.
“I could really care less about them,” said Tim Nelson, 48, who has been homeless for the last three months, since his release from prison.
Keith Bradley, who runs a 45-bed homeless shelter at South Sixth Street and South Avenue, said the signs need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Jesus, he said, was not homeless because “he had a purpose in what he was doing.”
He went on to say that with the number of services available in the Grand Valley, no one needs to be homeless if they choose not to be.
“I think the problem here is being taken care of,” Bradley said. “It’s not a disgrace to be poor, but the disgrace is not trying to get out of it.”
A member of the local political action group, A Voice of Reason, said the opposite.
“We see homelessness as a pretty big issue,” said Connie Murillo.
The signs bring to mind Jesus’ original message of care and love for others, she said.
“That is the message that I get out of the signs,” she said.
If the person or persons posting the signs are caught they could be cited for criminal tampering, said Kate Porras, spokeswoman for the Grand Junction Police Department.
Anyone convicted of the class 2 misdemeanor could face from three months in jail and/or a $250 fine up to 12 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, she said.