A city man has been charged after he reportedly threatened a neighbor and her children when the woman asked him to remove from his yard offensive signs containing obscene messages.

Robert C. Little, 75, 409 E. D St., was served on Tuesday with a criminal summons charging him with assault.

According to a report filed with the Elizabethton Police Department on Oct. 7, Little had been placing signs with obscene sexual references, racial slurs and homosexual slurs in his yard and on the front door of his residence. When neighbor Diane Cleghorn asked him to remove the signs he threatened her.

"I wrote him a letter," Cleghorn told the Elizabethton Star on Tuesday. "I told Mr. Little that while we believe in First Amendment rights and that we understand from his signs that he has issues with African-Americans and homosexuals and that while we do not share these views we respect his right to free speech. We understand that what you do in your own home is none of our business but when we have to see it and it affects our children it becomes our business."

Cleghorn said the incidents became worse after she asked Little to remove the signs. "That is when the personal stuff started," she said, adding that he had threatened to kill her and also threatened her children.

When Cleghorn filed her report of the harassment and threats with the Police Department, she also submitted a list of statements on the signs which Little had posted on his property over the last few weeks. \

According to the report, the signs displayed messages including, "Burn all (racial slur directed at African-Americans)," "Kill all (racial slur directed at African-Americans)," "Kill all (sexual slur directed at homosexuals)." Many of the messages shown on the signs, according to police reports, were too vulgar to include in this story.

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