The emotion of the presidential campaign is trickling down to Surry County, where signs promoting Republican candidate Donald Trump have been vandalized.
This includes a weekend incident at the home of Barry Harrgett on Kirkman Road in the Bannertown community, where two Trump signs in his yard were damaged. The letters “FDT” were spray-painted in blue over the message “Trump-Pence, Make America Great Again,” which refers to Donald Trump’s initials preceded by an expletive.
Harrgett reported the crime to the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, which has at least one clue to pursue.
“They left a beer bottle,” he said of the party responsible. Hargett said Deputy Sydney Alderman told him the bottle would be examined for fingerprints that possibly could be matched with prints on file in a crime or government database and lead to a property damage violation being issued.
Meanwhile, Harrgett is perturbed not so much by the damage to the signs, but a principle he said is being infringed on whether they cost 5 cents or $5,000.
His First Amendment right of free speech was violated by the act, which he said could victimize supporters of any party who choose to make their preferences known.
Harrgett also is bothered that someone would choose to make a political statement by vandalizing property.
“They’re doing it to Trump signs everywhere,” he said.
“These are people who want Hillary to be president,” Harrgett added in reference to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“And I’d be willing to bet the people who did it don’t even vote,” he said of the vandalism. “That’s not how you win a political battle.”
Harrgett believes such incidents fly in the face of the democratic system.
“You know how I make my stand? I vote.”
Harrgett said Monday he planned to erect more Trump signs as well as promote the GOP candidate on sheets of plywood.
He also wanted to warn others who’ve put out political markers about the problem, which might only get worse as Election Day approaches.
“People need to be made aware of it,” Harrgett said.
No rash — yet
So far, vandalism of political signs has been kept to a minimum in Surry County, according to Sheriff Graham Atkinson.
“We’ve not really had any rash of that,” Atkinson said Monday.
“My personal observation is I think I’ve seen less,” he said of sign damage compared to past election years.
But that might not tell the whole story.
“Normally, people don’t report these things,” the sheriff said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.