CLEVELAND — Cleveland couple Chris Mitchel and his wife have always been engaged in local elections. Typically, they show their support for the candidate of their choice, by putting out a sign in front of their yard.
“Neither one of us will be dissuaded from who we are supporting,” he said.
But in his nearly two decades living in Cleveland’s Ward 7, he said he’s never had anything happen to them, like what happened Saturday afternoon.
“We heard an enormous loud boom,” he said.
The boom shook their home, and when they went out to their front yard to investigate, they were shocked at what they saw.
“The sign was just in pieces, with a big, old crater hole in the middle of our yard,” said Mitchel.
The sign he’s referring to is their yard sign in support of Ward 7 Cleveland City Council candidate TJ Dow.
“The campaign sign that we had was just ripped to shreds, and of course, dirt all over the house, the whole bit and everything,” said Mitchel.
They called 9-1-1 and filed a police report.
“They were pretty taken aback by it all because they’ve seen signs taken or signs defaced, but for somebody to use a mini-explosive to do that, they were just completely baffled themselves,” he said.
Police told them whoever did it used an M-80, a powerful type of firecracker.
“Signs can be replaced, but when you go on people’s actual property to do things like this, you know, you’re turning things into a whole different level,” Mitchel said.
TJ Dow came to investigate the incident, as well. He said he was shocked when he heard the news and had to see it for himself.
“I’ve been in politics for awhile, but I have never ever experienced anything like this in my life,” said Dow. “I just sat there and stared for awhile. this is above and beyond anything that I could ever imagine could happen in a campaign.”
He said he’s had several residents call his campaign office and tell him about how their yard signs were stolen overnight.
“I believe this is intimidation more or less,” said Dow. “We’re getting more and more every day.”
Cleveland mayoral candidate Sandra Williams said she’s had 150 of her campaign signs taken out of Ward 7, too.
“In one night, some people traveled all over the Ward 7 area and just picked up yard signs. Not only was that theft, that was also trespassing on a person's property,” she said.
She said it happens overnight.
“The city of Cleveland has a lot of problems already. We don't need the issue of the yard sign saga,” said Williams. “Let's have a fair election.”
While Mitchel is hopeful that police can catch whoever is responsible for blowing up his sign, he said it did not stop him from putting another sign right back up and heading to the polls to vote for the candidate of his choice.
“It’s still up here and it’s going to stay up here, no matter what, it’s going to stay up here until we vote in a new councilman,” said Mitchel.