Paging Dr. Bronner

Woman ordered to remove words from home
The Community Improvement Commission ordered a Shoreview resident Wednesday to remove cryptic messages written on her home or face as much as $5,000 in fines.

Estrella Benevides, 46, has until Feb. 14 to erase the painted script from her home in the 1800 block of Cottage Grove Avenue, which has been covered with an inscrutable text containing biblical references, conspiracy theories and glimpses into a painful personal history.

Benevides vowed not to remove the messages, which she believes come from God, and to fight the commission's decision, citing her First Amendment rights to free speech.

Benevides' home is almost completely blanketed in words, which combine to warn in part of a worldwide conspiracy that employs mind-control to oppress the poor. Benevides began painting the messages on her sometime in 2005.

In a letter she submitted to the commission, Benevides wrote that the government is persecuting her because she "discovered that they are using witchcraft and technology against the people who are not aware of and who are not part of this mafia group."

Benevides told the commission that she writes the messages on her home as a plea for help in her attempt to regain custody of her 4-year-old son, who lives in Hayward with his father. Benevides lost custody of the child after she began acting erratically in 2005, according to court documents.


41 Responses:

  1. chuckm says:

    Does not appear to be visible via Google Maps, sadly.

  2. ivan_ghandhi says:

    What could be a legal background for a local "authority" to defy the 1st amendment?

    • lohphat says:

      The all-knowing, all-powerful HOA.

      • dballing says:

        ... which is why there are some of us, at any rate, who refuse to purchase homes where a HOA is involved.

        It's my property, and I'll do what I damned well please with it. :-)

      • sc00ter says:

        I've read in a few places (not online, but in local papers) that you can defy the HOA rules, but they can deny you access to HOA facilities and services (such as trash pickup, access to HOA parks, etc.).

        My parents retirement community tried to stop people from putting up DirecTV dishes (and they live in a community where you only own the house and not the land, you rent the land). But that is very illegal and people put them up anyway.

    • jabberwokky says:

      Zoning and signage regulations. There was a recent "number of dead" billboard that was oversized and the group was told to make it smaller or it would be taken down. (Of course, it appeared as a headline that the government was taking down the billboard, but the quotes in the article didn't seem to jibe with that).

      Disclaimer: you may know more about that particular case than I cared to learn. Point is, free speech seems to be trumped by local sign laws. Feel free to contradict me on that, as I'd like to know if it isn't. After I bit of thought I decided I prefer that signage laws apply: there shouldn't be "some speech is more free than other speech" laws, even if it's political protest versus a commercial billboard. If the one is limited, so should the other. Of course, limiting it at all is questionable to me, but if I have to accept that, I prefer even ground.

    • mkay422 says:

      You might find this interesting, and also related to the matter (if more than 500 people read these signs)

    • eqe says:

      So long as the regulation is content-neutral the first amendment doesn't prohibit regulations that curtail "speech". It's perfectly legitimate for a city to prohibit cars driving around with loudspeakers at two AM, even though they might be blaring first-amendment-protected speech.

      • jwz says:

        Also these Homeowner's Association agreements are a matter of contract, not a government imposition; there are a lot of rights you can voluntarily waive, so long as it's not the government imposing it on you.

      • editer says:

        Right; those are called "time, place and manner restrictions", or they were when I took media law in 1989 or so.

  3. Not being a doctor or anything, one would think these are sure signs of an onset of a sort of schizophrenia.

  4. cameo says:

    So.. she accuses the government and associated mafia of mind controlling and bewitching the poor for their own devious causes, and the government has demanded she be silenced!?

    Coincidence? I think not!
    *puts on her pyramid-shaped tin-foil hat*

    *hands one to jamie*

  5. scullin says:

    Why doesn't God just get a blog like everybody else?

  6. marcus132 says:

    Remember that part in Terminator 2 where Sarah Connor was in the mental institution raving about Judgement Day and nobody would believe her, even though she was absolutely right?

    Stories like this always make me paranoid that we're all going to look really stupid in the second reel.

    • belgand says:

      It depends on the type of ravings. As stated in T2 her "delusion" was very detailed and provided valid explanations for every point of it. Her reasoning and word usage was also very coherent with no evidence of formal thought disorder such as you tend to see in many of these cases.

      Fundamentally there were only a few unbelievable concepts in her story: machines take over and time travel. In something like this you have a greater degree of unbelievable activities taking place.

      Otherwise you're totally correct. You just need to pay attention to the people others are writing off as crazy who seem like maybe they're not actually crazy.

  7. narniaknight says:

    Oh noes! A sleeper found out about the Technocracy and the Traditions! Wait till she stumbles onto vampires and werewolves...

  8. romanticboy says:

    It really does look like one of those dr bronner castile soaps: