Couple wins lawsuit over neighbor's signs

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A couple from Arlington, Wash., has won a lawsuit against their neighbor John Stokes, forcing him to remove the "no trespassing" signs with swastikas from his property, according to The Daily Inter Lake.

Donna and Peter Poeschel said the signs, which were posted on a road shared by both landowners, scared away potential buyers of their Lake County home. On June 11, District Judge Kim Christopher ruled that Stokes could no longer post the signs on that road, and that he must pay $5,853 in legal costs to the Poeschels.

The two signs read:

"Keep out. No entry. No stopping. No hunting. No travel. No trespassing. If you stop long enough to read the sign, we've had enough time to put a rifle scope on your head and vehicle. Get out and stay out. This property protected by The Brotherhood."

Each sign also included several black swastikas, but did not explain "the brotherhood."

The sign dispute began last year, when the Poeschels put their home up for sale. Stokes offered to buy the land, but the Poeschels rejected his offer, according to the lawsuit. They are the only two landowners on Raven Way.

Shoterly after, the "for sale" signs were torn down, and the threatening signs were posted in their place. The Poeschels filed their lawsuit, citing a law that prohibits landowners from any offensive activity on their street.

Stokes contends he's been displaying the signs for years.

"Those signs you refer to have been in place over the last 13 years," said one letter to the Peschels' attorney. "In any event, it [a swastika] is a religious symbol and its not coming down. It is well known I have been associated with swastikas" the Inter Lake reported.

He also said he has received numerous death threats as a result of the lawsuit and that posters have been passed out with directions to his home "with the stated intent to burn down the residence" where he lives with his wife and daughter.

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He also complained that someone has fired about 60 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon. The Inter Lake reports that Stokes wrote in court filings that "the plaintiffs have demonstrated and fired fully automatic illegal and unregistered machine guns on the easement area. The defendant believes that this was done to intimidate the defendant." He also claims that the Poeschels tree fell and hit power lines on his property.

Stokes has filed a countersuit seeking $4.1 million in damages and a $4.2 million punitive award, claiming that a real estate agency that represents the Poeschels discriminated against him by rejecting his offer. A date for that trial is set for next month.

In the meantime, the trespassing signs have been removed.

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