Political sign vandalism becoming more targeted, heated says Carson City Sheriff
Every political season brings out the candidate yard signs and every season, it seems, where Carson City residents are asked to vote, the ugly side of politics rears its head with vandalism. This year is no different. But what has changed over the years has been the aggressive nature of it, said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.
Over the past few weeks political signs have been targeted, vandalized, desecrated and destroyed. Most of the vandalism has been the targeted at the presidential race, said Furlong. But local signs and issues have also been targeted.
The photo of the vandalized sign in the empty parcel at the corner of Oak Ridge Drive and West College Parkway was taken on Saturday. A new sign was put up Sunday to replace the vandalized sign and was found slashed and destroyed on Monday morning.
"Each political season we get numerous reports of sign vandalism and because we have this realization, this year we've noted some pointed political signs stolen, taken down, damaged and otherwise vandalized," said Furlong. "If you are caught vandalizing or stealing signs it can result in a criminal charges against you that you may not have suffered in your past. There is retribution for these senseless acts. These signs cost money."
Furlong said the vandalism has been directed primarily in the presidential race and directed at both partisans sides. Of the numerous reports so far this political season — and there have been many, says Furlong — no one has been prosecuted. Yet. In past election years there have been people caught in the act of vandalizing signs after being reported by citizens and were punished. Just like someone who graffiti's and gets caught, sign vandals not only face prosecution but public embarrassment, Furlong said.
"We do have heated debates. But let's keep them debates. What I have seen has been intolerable," Furlong said. "We need to take a step back and respect other people's opinions because that is what our political system is made of."
The CC#1 campaign has been emotional and confrontational, including an Oct. 4 pushing incident at Western Nevada College and instances of sign vandalism. Marilee Swirczek,a CC#1 supporter, said something is happening to the political process that is worrisome.
"This is a direct assault on the Constitution's First Amendment," she said. "I'm alarmed at the escalation of violence and aggression against people and property. It appears that intimidation is replacing civil discourse about an issue in our community that we should be able to discuss openly and freely."