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Dirty politics? Signs being stolen, vandalized in York County

Ron Musselman
York Dispatch
Allison Korn-Sherman of Shrewsbury Township plants a Biden/Harris sign outside her home after having it delivered by Jackie Wilson, regional director of the Democratic Party of York County, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Wilson has been delivering the 110 signs she has to southern York County residents who request them. Chad Baker, chairman of the county party, said it will have distributed 5,000 Biden/Harris signs in the county. Bill Kalina photo

As the contentious Nov. 3 presidential election approaches, thieves have been busy waging their own version of dirty politics throughout York County.

Political signs touting Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Mike Pence or Democratic challengers Joe Biden and Kamala Harris continue to be stolen or vandalized in people’s front yards, according to officials.

Chad Baker, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, said Wednesday the number of signs stolen connected to his organization appears to “be in the hundreds at this point.”

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Jeff Piccola, chairman of the York County Republican Committee, declined to be interviewed. But officials at York County GOP said people are stopping by the party's office daily saying their pro-Trump yard signs were stolen and requesting new ones. 

By the end of the week, Baker said his party will have distributed 5,000 Biden/Harris signs throughout York County, excluding people who purchased signs on their own or received them from other organizations.

Jackie Wilson, regional director of the Democratic Party of York County, loads Biden/Harris signs in her car at her Shrewsbury Township home Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. She has been delivering the 110 signs she has to southern York County residents who request them. Chad Baker, chairman of the county party, said it will have distributed 5,000 Biden/Harris signs throughout the county. Bill Kalina photo

“Out of those 5,000, there are quite a few of those that are duplicates or triplicates of signs that have been taken,” Baker said. “We’re hearing more about it this year than usual. I don’t know if that’s an indication it’s happening more or if people are being more vocal about it."

This year's election has brought a wave of people on both sides expressing support for one candidate or the other outside their homes, Baker said. 

“It’s above and beyond the signs this year. We’re seeing more and more flags and banners out in front of houses. Those things are typically left untouched. But the yard signs themselves seem to be targets this year.”

State police said someone stole a vinyl political sign from a man’s property in Washington Township.

The sign, which read, “Make America Hate Again, Vote Grump,” was stolen from the 2100 block of Baltimore Pike sometime between 6 p.m. June 22 and 10 a.m. June 23, according to a news release.

The sign was valued at $164. The victim was a 65-year-old East Berlin man, the release said. 

There have been numerous other incidents throughout York County as well.

“There are parts of the county where it seems like the signs are being untouched,” Baker said. “There’s other parts of the county, specifically in the southern part, where we have had individuals who have come to us now three or four times to replace signs that have been stolen. We’ve also seen different signs that have been spray painted to cover up what is on there.” 

Newberry Township Police report they have received multiple theft reports involving political signs and “Support our Police” signs.

“The unauthorized removal of these types of signs is a theft and does not qualify as a legal expression under your First Amendment right to free speech, regardless of your opinion,” police said in a recent news release. 

“Currently, the political season is in full swing, and everyone has the absolute right to express their opinion, but no one has the right to suppress the opinion of those with opposing views.”

— Ron Musselman can be reached at rmusselman@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @ronmusselman8.