OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — It’s not unusual during a fiery election season, like the one we’re in now, for political signs to get yanked from people’s yards or even vandalized.
But one metro homeowner says she was stunned to find her signs defaced with extreme vulgarities.
In Overland Park, homeowner Gail is proud of the political signs that dot her yard and completing her collection of hard-to-find signs.
“I went to bed feeling very tickled and I posted a picture of, ‘Oh look! I’ve got my four in the set!'” Gail said.
But the very next day, she woke up to find them defaced. One side of the signs spelled out an expletive and a drawing of genitalia. The other sided included a derogatory term aimed at Democrats.
“It felt very intimidating and almost like an assault because of the severity of the graphics on it,” she said.
Gail said she expects sometimes signs will get stolen or even an “x” sprayed on them. But to her, this went way too far.
“Because that’s not a free speech issue. That’s a safety issue. And suddenly my politics feel like they could be unsafe, and that’s just not democratic. It’s not American. It’s just wrong on every level,” Gail said.
And it comes at a time with heightened political discord coming from even the highest-ranking officials in both parties.
“You have an incumbent president with fairly high unfavorability ratings, but then you also have a segment of the public that really loves him and kind of elections setting up to be a referendum on that president. So it’s not surprising there’s an atmosphere of animosity,” said Matt Harris, Park University assistant professor of political science.
And Harris said suburbs are actually the most likely place for that animosity to play out.
“Suburbs are kind of becoming the battle ground because it’s kind of an area where you have the red and blue meeting. Plus, you’ve got a really competitive and contentious congressional race. So all those factors sort of add up to the suburban areas being that area where someone might swipe your lawn sign,” Harris said.
The woman who had her yard signs stolen this weekend did file a police report and has since gotten her signs replaced.
She’s just hoping all of us can be a little kinder in respecting candidates and issues our neighbors support.