Remnants of an Israeli hostage poster on a pole in Concord Center. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

Who’s taking down Israeli hostage posters in Concord? 

By Celeste Katz Marston
November 29, 2023

Posters have been going up around the world to draw attention to the plight of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 — and just as fast, many have been torn down. 

The remains of a torn-down poster remained visible in Concord Center in late November. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

In Concord’s case, though, at least some of the hostage posters are being removed by the Concord Public Works Department at the behest of the police.  

A concerned resident recently called police to report two men vigorously ripping down the signs from a billboard at a West Concord entrance to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail — and said he was told their work was sanctioned by the town.  

Concord Police Lt. Brian Goldman confirmed his department asked CPW to help by having workers remove the “kidnapped” signs from streetlight poles. He said it had nothing to do with their content.  

“It’s not the flyers themselves — it’s how they were posted and the adhesive [that] was used. When they come off, what happens is they’re literally taking the paint off the poles, and it’s a very expensive process [to fix them].” Goldman said.  

The light poles, he said, are coated with a special paint used to prevent electric shock if they’re touched.  

“Technically,” sticking posters on the poles this way is “a crime. It’s defacing town property. It’s vandalism,” he said. “We’re not looking to jam anybody up on that front. It just creates a problem for the light department, [because] they have to repair that.”  

Public Works Director Alan Cathcart said he contacted Goldman following an inquiry from The Concord Bridge about the poster removal. 

“While I was generally aware of requests from CPD for assistance, I was not aware of the specifics. He offered me a similar explanation as to their concern,” Cathcart said in an email.  

“As I am not aware of what specific instructions my operations personnel received, based on the information you have shared, I intend to ensure that moving forward, they have clear guidance as to what if any additional support/request might be made.” 

The posters were created by a Tel Aviv artist couple. As widely reported, the signs have become a flashpoint in the U.S., with some dismissing them as Israeli propaganda and others calling the tearing down of the posters an overt act of antisemitism.   

Israel and Hamas agreed November 21 to a four-day ceasefire to allow time for a hostage-prisoner exchange. 

Posters were removed on and around an entrance to the Rail Trail in West Concord. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

Goldman said there are spots around town where it’s acceptable to post flyers of all kinds. “As long as it’s not crude, offensive, hatemongering speech, if you will, they can post on public [bulletin] boards, places where they’re not doing damage to town property,” he said. 

He said he had not received a report of hostage posters being removed from bulletin boards.  

In late November, vestiges of the hostage signs were easy to find in Concord Center and West Concord — some next to other kinds of flyers attached to poles with clear heavy duty tape.   

Goldman said if a poster of, say, a missing pet were applied to a public light pole with a strong adhesive, “We take it down — absolutely do the same thing — [because] it’s damaging town property.”