The election campaign signs for two lesbians running for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats in the Logan Circle area and a gay man running for a Dupont Circle area ANC seat have been repeatedly pulled down or damaged while signs for other candidates in the same locations have been left alone.
Gay Dupont Circle ANC commissioner Mike Silverstein, a spokesperson for the ANC Rainbow Caucus, said one or more unidentified suspects appear to be targeting the signs of the three out lesbian and gay candidates and possibly other LGBTQ ANC candidates.
Alexandra Bailey, who’s running for the Logan Circle ANC seat 2F08, Rehana Mohammed, who’s running for the seat in nearby ANC 2F07, and Kyle Mulhall, a candidate for the Dupont Circle area ANC 2B09, have each said their respective campaign signs have been pulled down and sometimes ripped into shreds days after they or their supporters affix them to utility poles and other places along city streets.
Bailey said her main campaign signs are made of a strong wood-like backing, which prevents them from being torn. But she said one or more unidentified individuals have been ripping off rainbow decorative tape that she had attached to her signs, indicating the unknown suspects were targeting a specific LGBTQ symbol that was part of her signs.
Each of the three said they have not reported the destruction or damage to their campaign signs to D.C. police, saying they did not think police could do much without evidence to identify a suspect.
But the Washington Post reported last week that police in Arlington, Va., are investigating the destruction of about 55 campaign signs for Democratic candidates and another 25 campaign signs in other Arlington locations. According to the Post, destruction of political signs in Virginia is considered an act of misdemeanor vandalism punishable by a fine of as much as $2,500 or a maximum one-year jail term.
D.C. police spokesperson Brianna Jordan said her office would respond as soon as possible to an inquiry from the Washington Blade asking what, if any, policy D.C. police have for investigating the destruction of political campaign signs in the District.
Silverstein told the Blade on Wednesday that the Rainbow Caucus, a city-wide coalition of LGBTQ ANC members and supportive allies, has decided to contact D.C. police to alert them to the destruction of the campaign signs for Bailey, Mohammed, and Mulhall. He said the Caucus will ask police to consider investigating the sign destruction incidents.
“We need to put a stop to this and to defend and protect candidates from our community from this kind of harassment,” Silverstein said.
Bailey, Mohammed, and Mulhall said they preferred not to speculate about whether supporters of their respective opponents – each of whom are incumbent commissioners – played some role in the destruction of their campaign signs.
Bailey is challenging incumbent ANC 2F08 commissioner Janice Ferebee. Mohammed is running against incumbent ANC 2F07 member Kevin Sylvester. And Mulhall is challenging incumbent 2B09 commissioner Ed Hanlon.
Mulhall said his signs have been equally subjected to being ripped down or damaged in the section of his district that includes the bustling 14th Street business area between S Street and U Street, N.W., as well as along quiet nearby residential streets.
“I’ve been getting my signs ripped down regularly for the whole two months I’ve had them up,” he said. “It’s alarming how many I replaced multiple times.”
He said he discovered his most recently reinstalled signs pulled down and ripped in half on the ground on 14th Street this past weekend.
“So I have actually sent some notes to a couple of the businesses to see if any of them have cameras that would have covered people ripping down all of my signs outside their stores and other places,” Mulhall told the Blade.
D.C. police routinely approach storefront businesses to view their video surveillance camera footage while investigating crimes. But it couldn’t immediately be determined whether D.C. police would follow that practice to investigate the destruction of election campaign signs.