CLEVELAND, (WJW) – Candidates for office in Cleveland are hoping yard signs will help them build name recognition and show the strength of their support, but police are now investigating complaints that some of the signs are being stolen or destroyed.
Chris Mitchel, a supporter of Ward 7 City Council candidate TJ Dow, says he put a campaign sign in his front yard in the city’s Hough neighborhood, but on Saturday afternoon, it was blown up by what police believe was an M-80.
“I was upstairs taking a nap and my wife and the dog were downstairs and we heard an enormous boom right outside. I ran downstairs to see what it was and said ‘wow, there’s a big crater in the middle of our yard’ and our campaign sign is in shreds,” Mitchel said.
Mitchel believes the destruction of the yard sign was an effort to intimidate his family for supporting Dow.
“I tell anybody, ‘If you try to intimidate us, it didn’t work. You got the right ones. We’re not going to be, you know, discouraged or anything,’” he said.
After the incident was reported to police, Dow spoke with the family.
“I apologized because you want the visibility in the campaign, but you kind of feel sad that they had to go through something like this,” he said.
According to Dow, a witness reported seeing a red minivan driven by a woman pull up to the Mitchel home. The witness said a teenager jumped out, lit the explosive, jumped back into the minivan and they sped away.
“What message are you sending, one, to that child, and what message across the board are you sending to think that that’s okay?” said Dow.
Mitchel decided to send a message to the people who blew up his yard sign.
“[TJ Dow] said ‘would you guys be okay putting up another sign?’ and I was like ‘uh, yes, no problem,’” said Mitchel.
In addition, a number of candidates have reported that their signs have been stolen from street corners and yards in Ward 7.
Mayoral hopeful Sandra Williams says more than 150 of her campaign signs have been stolen, most of them in the middle of the night.
“It’s either somebody being paid to take those signs or someone not wanting me to have name exposure in the community,” said Williams.
She points out that those taking the signs are technically guilty of trespassing and theft.
“And I want people to know that yard signs are not the ones that vote. The people who chose to put those yard signs in their yard are the ones who are going to cast that vote for me,” she said.”
Williams said another issue on the campaign trail in Ward 7 is the placement of signs in yards without the permission of the homeowner.