• Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

Sign of the times: Biden, Trump fans steal, damage placards

  • Published at 06:28 am October 31st, 2020
US Election 2020
A sign for Presidential candidate Joe Biden is displayed in a window, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on October 30, 2020 AFP

The phenomenon is common every election year but appears to have taken off in 2016 before accelerating this year

The millions of signs that Americans place on their lawns during election season are increasingly being vandalized or removed by disgruntled neighbors, a sign of the acutely hostile political climate.

After signs expressing support for Democratic candidate Joe Biden disappeared twice from a road outside Newtown, Pennsylvania, Gayle Share-Raab covered the next one in vaseline and glitter to try to deter the thief, but to no avail.

Jack Worthington was fed up with his big, plastic Donald Trump signs vanishing. So he built his own, with plywood and screws as reinforcements. They are still up, for now.


 Also read: Trump derides doctors as Covid-19 surges, Biden says Trump giving up on virus


Across the country, there are reports that signs are being stolen or damaged at an unprecedented rate.

The phenomenon is common every election year but appears to have taken off in 2016 before accelerating this year.

"I've never seen it like this in my lifetime," said Share-Raab.

Besides petroleum jelly, other means homeowners use to deter unwelcome visitors include grass-colored string, a coat of hair gel or honey, and a perimeter of barbed wire or even dog poop.

Steve Cickay, a Democratic activist, estimates that roughly 2,000 or 3,000 Biden signs have been "stolen, thrown in the woods or defaced" in Bucks County, where Newtown is located.

Worthington believes he has lost about a quarter of the 4,000 small pro-Trump signs that he has installed.

He sometimes manages to fix the larger ones, like the time someone altered a Trump-Pence sign into an obscene slogan on the grounds of a female 96-year-old Republican farmer.


Also read: US Election 2020: What you need to know right now


"If they spray paint them, I'm OK with that, because it just makes the other side look really bad," says Worthington.

His father, Jim Worthington, founder of the People4Trump organization, says Republicans don't steal Democrats' signs because they "believe in law and order."

Cickay, a member of the Newtown Democrats, scoffs at that suggestion.

"They're supposed to be the champions of law or order and yet they are encouraging breaking the law," he says.

Newtown police say they receive several complaints a week but have yet to arrest anyone.

"The police feels like if they go after these folks they're going to look like they're picking sides. They prefer not to confront it," says Jim Worthington.

'Arms race' 

According to CCTV images collected by locals, the thieves are often fairly young men in shorts and sneakers acting on impulse, rather than with premeditation.

At his workshop in Bucks, a key county in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, the younger Worthington is busy making additional signs that he will plant in the run-up to Tuesday's election day.

Hillary Clinton won the county by less than a point in 2016 and its representative in the House is a Republican.

"Trump supporters feel like they're pointed out and ostracized... so when the signs are up, it gives other supporters strength," says Jim Worthington.

"When you see Trump signs you want to see signs for your candidate," says Biden supporter Share-Raab.

Cickay likens it to "an arms race," the smaller signs priced between two and four dollars each.

"In a way, it could be seen as a waste of money, especially when it gets out of hand," he says.

Both camps see a deliberate strategy in the theft and damage of signs.

"They want to create the illusion that there's not that much Biden support in our county," says Cickay.

Slayers of Trump signs are trying to "intimidate" voters, according to Jim Worthington, who doesn't rule out that supporters of Biden are damaging their own signs to point the finger at fans of Trump. 

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail