Steven Showers wasn't home on Monday morning when a work crew showed up outside his Ventura, Calif. house and removed the 14-foot-tall, neon sign warning of former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's "racist heart" from his front yard.
Showers, 60, was in jail for the second time in two months over charges stemming from the display, which first attracted controversy when he put it up nearly a year ago, in the midst of the 2012 presidential election. From the Ventura County jail, Showers couldn't see as a crane hoisted the massive sign and hauled it away on a flatbed truck, marking the latest twist in a legal saga that Showers has been fighting for months.
Earlier this year, a jury convicted Showers of eight misdemeanor counts of having unlawful signs, illegal electrical connections and other code violations, according to the Associated Press. He was given a chance to unplug the sign, but refused -- an act that ultimately led to him being jailed for three weeks.
Showers was released in July, but the temptation to plug the sign back in and warn neighbors and passers-by that Mormons are all allegedly racist proved difficult to resist. Showers, a self-described Christian Republican known for wearing a monk outfit to his legal proceedings, first told New York Magazine that he was considering violating the terms of his parole, a decision that he admitted he knew could lead to a potential 18-month sentence. Last week, he confirmed that he'd made up his mind, and on Thursday, he explained his decision to flip the switch.
"I have been home (from jail) for about six days now, and the darkness of the sign is eating away at my soul," he told New York Magazine. "I say, 'Let there be light.' "
The Ventura County Star reported that the display of defiance was met with a flood of calls and complaints to county officials. On Friday, a senior code compliance officer told Showers that she had a warrant to remove the sign if he didn't comply with the court order to turn it off or bring it up to code. He didn't, and on Friday he was booked into jail again. He is expected to go before a judge on Tuesday afternoon.
County officials say they'll hold the sign until Showers is released from jail and can make the necessary adjustments to the sign.