Residents in suburbs wake up to find graffiti, vandalism and arson being used to send intimidating political messages

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL – Police are investigating anti-Trump vandalism that occurred overnight in at least two Birmingham suburbs.

Several residents woke up Monday morning to find their vehicles damaged by green spray paint with messages denouncing President Trump and promoting presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Alabama Media Group reported that Ashley Deaton McMakin, who lives in Mountain Brook, said her husband was taking out the trash Monday morning when he discovered spray painted graffiti on the family’s GMC Yukon. 

The words “Biden 46” were scrawled on the SUV.

Others had “Go Joe,” “Bye Trump” and “No More Trump.”

McMakin said it was a shocking discovery, especially since she had no political signs in her yard and does not make political posts on social media.

She also said she was more sad than angry about the vandalism:

“It’s not the physical damage, it’s just disturbing the state our country is in.”

Mountain Brook Police Chief Ted Cook said as of 10 a.m., they had only received one report of damage, but said there were multiple reports of campaign signs on both sides stolen throughout the election season.

In Vestavia Hills, Joshua Putnam also woke up to damage to his vehicle. He did not have any political sign on his property, but he had a flag and red, white and blue wreath hanging outside his house, according to Alabama Media Group.

Vestavia Hills Police Capt. Shane Ware said by 9:30 a.m. they had received four reports of the vandalism on Monday, mostly in the Cahaba Heights community.

Ware said the police have responded to complaints of stolen signs, but Monday’s incidents were the first election-related property damage reported to them.

Ware said they will actively investigate the incidents and pursue criminal mischief charges if they can identify a suspect or suspects. The crime is criminal mischief, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the cost of the damage.

Ware also said:

“We take property crimes seriously. We will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Sometimes political sentiments can become much more dangerous and take the form of arson.

In September, CBS 4 of Minnesota reported that a suspicious fire destroyed a Trump supporter’s trucks, trailer and garage. Pro-Biden, Black Lives Matter and anarchy graffiti were left at the scene of the crime in Brooklyn Center.

Denis and Deana Molla had draped Trump 2020 flags over their detached garage and trucks and believe that they were targeted for advertising their support for the president. CBS 4 reported the FBI and ATF were investigating the fire.

Deana told KSTP:

“To be honest, we didn’t feel threatened. We live in America. We live in the greatest country on earth and everybody has the right to say what they feel.”

Denis explained what he heard and witnessed around 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 23:

“I heard just a big, loud boom, or a bang. The first thing for me was my kids, my wife. What’s going on?”

Denis said he saw three people running from his home, but he was focused on getting his family and pets out, including his children, age 2 and 5 months, and three dogs and five puppies:

“Our family’s safe, that’s the main thing. All this is material, it’s all material. It’s not as important as our family.”

Graffiti was also seen on the garage, which included “Biden 2020,” “BLM” and an alleged anarchist symbol of an “A” with a circle around it.

The family had just put the flags out only a few days before, but said they noticed people had been driving by their house slowly, and some took pictures. They also said they couldn’t believe they were targeted for their political beliefs. Denis said:

“It just shocked me. This kind of stuff should not happen, especially over beliefs of some sort.”

Deana noted:

“We’re just very happy to be alive, and praise God that we’re alive.”

On Twitter, some commented they were suspicious about this arson because anarchy and supporting a presidential candidate are not compatible. @LisaMarieT11 said:

“An anarchy symbol and a plug for a Presidential candidate? Together? This is so obviously ridiculous that it’s absurd. Everything burned, including the cars, but not the garage.

“I’m sure they have great insurance.”

CBS 4 reported that one of the family’s surveillance cameras was blocked just before the explosion and that the other surveillance cameras were turned over to authorities.

Brooklyn Center police said the Minnesota Arson Reward Project was offering a $5,000 reward for information on the case.

We reported on a positive story of a homeless man who left a donation to help the Oregon Historical Society after its building was vandalized. Here is that story.

PORTLAND, OR — One dollar and a handwritten note signed by a man known only as Oscar may not seem like a big deal.

However, in a city ravaged with protests, violence, and constant destruction, this simple act of kindness has become a priceless treasure.

Last Sunday night’s riots ravaged the worn out city…again.  On Monday morning, Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society, Kerry Tymchuk, never expected to obtain a “new” priceless artifact.  It was a shred of kindness in what must feel like the midst of a war zone.

Tymchuk found a napkin dropped off at the front desk of the Oregon Historical Society.  On the napkin was a one dollar bill and a handwritten note that said: 

“Hello, I’m homeless, so I don’t have much to give you. Just some of my bottle collecting money. But, I saw your windows got broken and I wanted to help. You once gave me a free tour before the pandemic. So, this is a thank you. – OSCAR”

Tymchuk spoke about the generous gift. He said that though the Oregon Historical Society had received several donations in the aftermath of the damage, Oscar’s gesture was priceless.

Tymchuk said:

“We’ve been fortunate to receive many generous donations to OHS over the years–some upwards to a million or more dollars. No donation means more to me and the society than this dollar donation from Oscar.”

Sunday night was a hellacious time for those in Portland. Protesters overturned statues of former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln in Downtown. 

Ahead of Sunday’s protest-turned-riot, the event had been promoted on social media as an “Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage.”  It was a demonstration against centuries of violence against indigenous populations.

The event quickly unraveled from demonstration to destructive protest to another riot.  The Portland Police Bureau determined it to be one of the most damaging of nightly unrests in the past five months.

Soon after, some people in the crowd began breaking windows at the Oregon Historical Society building. At least three lit flares were thrown into the structure in an apparent attempt to start fires, according to police, but the flares went out before causing any significant damage.

Tymchuk said though a majority of the collection of artifacts and other historical heirlooms were not damaged, an African-American heritage bicentennial quilt was taken and later found several blocks away. 

Although the quilt was pretty wet, Tymchuk felt optimistic that this “priceless piece of history” would be displayed again.

Despite the damage done, the heartwarming gift of Oscar’s keeps on giving.  Bottledrop,  Oregon’s bottle and can return program, said it is planning to contribute to rebuilding efforts.

Bottledrop says it is teaming up with the Oregon Historical Society to contribute money from donated cans. 

Community Relations Manager for BottleDrop Joel Schoening said:

“Oscar made such a kind gift. That gift inspired us to put our program to work to help OHS.” 

Bottledrop said whoever wishes to donate and stop into any of their 25 locations.  The staff will give them special bags to place heir bottles and cans, then drop off at any center when they are ready.  All contributions will go directly to the historical society.

Schoening said:

“The first $5,000 in donations will be matched.”

This method of fundraising has been used by the residents of Oregon on prior occasions. Bottledrop mentioned that in recent months, customers have donated approximately $260,000 to local causes.  

Schoening continued:

“Oregonians understand the power of the can drive. With the Bottledrop emergency donation program, we’re taking that concept and using it to respond to crises in the communities we serve.”

The Oregon Historical Society posted a moving statement on Facebook by Tymchuk about Oscar, the homeless man.   

Some expressed how the vandalism of the museum made them sad:

“This is unbelievable. I love this place and hope they can quickly get everything repaired.”

Another comment read:

“This is the house that Oregon’s history built. What happened last night at the OHS building (along with the damage done to the Portland Art Museum across the street and the toppling of the Lincoln and Roosevelt statues nearby) last night was an insult to Oregon’s history and people that can only be expressed in R-rated language.

“This act of cowardice shows total ignorance and disrespect on the part of those who committed this brazen and astonishingly stupid act. The people responsible for this deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law. We should be better than this.”

Someone angered at OHS because there was no mention of the other artifacts wrote:

“Downplaying all the looted cultural artifacts lost forever and only mentioning the quilt. How many families who donated Irreplaceable-heirlooms over the last century will receive apologies? Instead, you bow down to the angry mob and put out a letter of “understanding” and then try to deflect with a feel-good homeless man story.”

And then, someone who claimed to be the same Oscar who left the famous note said:

“I wish I could give more, but I hope my dollar inspires others to give, too.”

 

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