Garfield County sees election-season vandalism
Glenwood Springs Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado ” Whoever threw a planter through a large, plate-glass window at Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s campaign office in Glenwood Springs, Colorado Sunday night probably wasn’t priding themselves on taking the high road in expressing political views.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t be respectful of each other and our neighbors when we disagree politically,” said Garfield County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Sands.
He said the party believes the window-breaking occurred late Sunday night. The planter was thrown through a window at the Obama campaign office on Sixth Street near the Grand Avenue Bridge, Sands said. Democratic party volunteer Dean Moffatt said just a week earlier two $380 Democratic banners at the headquarters were sliced with a knife.
“Heretofore, we haven’t been angry like this, and we should be respectful of other people’s opinions,” he said.
There have also been a number of campaign signs from both major parties stolen or vandalized throughout Garfield County. Many see it as an offensive attack on freedom of speech.
Marilyn Oden, a volunteer for the county’s Republican party, said more than 20 signs for various Republican candidates have been taken down “almost every single night” in Rifle since the signs went up about a month ago. Since she lives in Rifle, her job for the Republican party has become a regular “sign patrol” where she replaces all the missing signs almost every morning in various locations, she said.
“This is really the first year that we’ve had much damage or stealing that I’m aware of,” she said. “I hear it’s fairly widespread.”
Oden said it’s especially frustrating because people who steal signs are essentially stealing money that people have donated to the party.
Sands said theft and vandalism of Democratic signs has also been ongoing in the county.
“It does seem like it’s worse this year,” he said. “We’ve certainly never had serious vandalism at our headquarters before.”
Someone reported a theft of an Obama sign Friday in the Battlement Mesa area, according to a report from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, but there were no leads and the case is considered closed. Community relations deputy Tanny McGinnis didn’t return an e-mail or a phone message Tuesday.
Moffatt said many Democratic signs have been stolen or vandalized throughout the county.
“It probably goes into the dozens,” he said.
The Sheriff’s Office investigated a report of one of Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s campaign billboards that had been damaged near the Catherine Store outside Carbondale on Oct. 7. A juvenile was cited with criminal mischief, and the damage was estimated to be up to $1,000.
Ken Kriz, of Glenwood Springs, wrote in a recent letter to the editor that several political signs were defaced and torn down on his property in early October and a vulgar word was spray-painted onto a McCain-Palin billboard. Michael P. Blair, of New Castle, wrote another letter saying around the same time period Democratic political signs on his property were stolen and replaced with McCain-Palin signs.
Republican Party Vice Chair Carole Brown said that besides someone putting up unwanted Democratic signs in her yard, someone recently put a bumper sticker on her car for their candidate without her permission. Another campaign worker’s daughter’s car had the “No” in a “NoBama” bumper sticker cut off with a razor blade, she added.
A woman in Battlement Mesa reported on Sunday morning that a large number of Republican signs disappeared from Battlement Mesa, said Milt Blake, chairman of the county’s Republican party. He added that a number of signs on a fence in West Glenwood Springs were destroyed last Monday and an obscene word was painted on another McCain-Palin sign.
“It’s not First Amendment freedom of speech, it’s vandalism,” Blake said. “When large numbers of signs disappear in a particular area and they are aimed at one party or the other I think that is hard to blame that on kids. I think that it’s people who are overzealous in their political feelings, and they need to knock it off.”
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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