Police urge residents to refrain from politically driven vandalism

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 22, 2020

 Police in Ferndale and Berkley have seen incidents occur in relation to the ongoing political season, including a home that had a rock thrown through a window, seen here.

Police in Ferndale and Berkley have seen incidents occur in relation to the ongoing political season, including a home that had a rock thrown through a window, seen here.

Photo provided by the Ferndale Police Department

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FERNDALE/BERKLEY — As the 2020 political season hits its stride with less than two months until Election Day, local police have noticed an uptick in crimes related to political expression.

Over the past couple of months, and even more so the last several weeks, the Berkley Public Safety Department has received more than a dozen reports of damaged and stolen political signs and flags from residents. Detective Lt. Andrew Hadfield said they all have been pro-Donald Trump or Republican-supporting paraphernalia.

Hadfield is worried the sign stealing will lead to more serious crimes. One home in the city that previously had its pro-Trump signs stolen was later egged.

“There definitely seems to be not only just more larceny of the political signs, but the actual attacks to the home, the damaged property, somebody egging a house … the attacks of somebody that appears to be supporting a candidate have increased, not just from stealing a sign, but now we’re gonna attack your property,” he said.

While Ferndale has not received as many reports from its residents about politically driven vandalism, Police Department Community Engagement Officer Jill Mahlmeister has noted that signs have been stolen at a home in the city.

“I don’t think it’s a problem in our community, but I’m worried, as it gets closer to the election, if it’s going to continue or get worse,” she said.

Mahlmeister said one home in particular with pro-Trump signage has had paint balls shot at it and, recently, had a rock thrown at a window.

“Political, religious and ideology expressions are a cornerstone of our country’s freedoms. So please be respectful and if you disagree with others’ views, do it with civility,” she said. “Be nice and courteous and agree to disagree. As a Police Department, we’re gonna investigate a crime, so if you cross that line and you do damage to someone’s house or steal something off their property, then there’s an issue.”

Hadfield said police want to prevent the anger and damaged property from getting out of hand and urged residents, if they see or capture anything on security cameras, to let the department know.

“If anybody’s wanting to be careful, we’ve seen where some people have moved their signs maybe towards the inside of their home,” he said. “We do stand for freedom of speech and people should be able to believe in one side or the other, but obviously we don’t want it resorting to criminal acts.”

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