Along George Mason Drive near the hospital Thursday morning, bare metal frames were almost as ubiquitous as the undamaged political signs still standing in the median.
Reports of widespread political sign vandalism earlier this month have seemingly not deterred the vandal or vandals. Newly ripped, trampled or discarded signs can still be seen along Arlington’s main roads. Many, if not most, are those supporting the Democratic presidential ticket.
“We continue to have widespread and sustained destruction and vandalism of campaign signs we’ve lawfully erected,” Arlington County Democratic Committee spokeswoman Rebecca Theim told ARLnow yesterday afternoon. “Our program chair, Carol Burnett, estimates that fewer than 25 of the 780 Biden-Harris signs Arlington Democrats volunteers placed on Oct. 3 remain undamaged. Although we’ve replaced many, most of the original signs simply disappeared; those that remained have been shredded.”
“More than half of our Arlington Democrats Joint Campaign signs titled ‘Vote Democrats’ are also gone or vandalized, including 30 such signs just last night along Wilson Boulevard,” Theim added. “The majority of signs supporting the re-election of Sen. Warner also have been removed or vandalized… There’s been some vandalism of the other signs, but for the most part, signs about the proposed state constitutional referendums and School Boards races have remained untouched.”
Arlington Democrats took the rare step of putting out a press release about the sign destruction on Oct. 4. Isolated incidents of signs being vandalized happen every election cycle, but 2020 seems to be different, local Democrats say.
“I have done median signs for a dozen elections in Arlington, and have never seen vandalism this rampant,” said Burnett, who heads ACDC’s sign program. “Usually, a few signs go missing, but I’ve never seen this kind of destruction, where signs are shredded or torn in half. And I’ve not seen entire streets with signs in a dozen medians vandalized, like has happened this year.”
“There are also many more reports of residents having their ‘Dump Trump’ and Biden-Harris signs stolen from their yards,” she continued. “One resident who lives on 23rd Street in Aurora Hills has had 6 signs stolen. He now takes his signs inside at night.”
On Nextdoor this week, Arlington residents have also reported numerous missing or damaged signs supporting President Trump.
Arlington GOP Chair Andrew Loposser previously told ARLnow that sign vandalism is a common occurrence.
“Nearly every candidate’s signs — regardless of political party — get vandalized at some point during the campaign, usually by bored high school kids,” he said earlier this month. “Let me be clear: Vandalism of any kind is unacceptable.”
Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that as of Thursday, the department has received more than a dozen reports of political sign theft and damage in recent months.
“Since July, ACPD has taken 13 reports for damaged, destroyed or stolen political signs,” Savage said. “These incidents have been reported in areas throughout the County.”
“ACPD works with our local law enforcement partners on information sharing and similar incidents have been reported across the region,” she added. “Anyone who observed an individual tampering with political signs is asked to report the information for police investigation by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”
Savage also included a statement about the police department’s efforts related to the election and public safety.
The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) is committed to protecting the Constitutional right to vote while ensuring the safety of those participating in the election process. Early voting is underway in Arlington County and there have been no reported incidents at the polling location. ACPD remains in contact with election officials and is prepared to respond to any reported incidents in the County. Additionally, ACPD works with our regional law enforcement partners at the local, state and national levels on information sharing concerning any threats to the safety of the public. There are no known threats in Arlington County at this time. To ensure public safety through the election, police are conducting extra checks around polling places. To balance the safety of voters with their privacy, officers will not be stationed at polling places. If members of the public observe suspicious activity in Arlington County, they are encouraged to report information to the Emergency Communications Center for police investigation by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.