The Burien Police Department is reporting that they have arrested a local man forÂ running over campaign signs in another resident’s front yard.
Officers were able to locate and arrest the owner of a suspect vehicle, who admitted to running the signs over.
The suspect was charged with two misdemeanor counts â€“ ‘Political advertising, removing or defacing’ and ‘Malicious Mischief,’ punishable under RCW 29.A.84.040.
The victim â€“ Andrew McNair â€“ told us that this wasn’t the first time the suspect drove over election signs in his front yard. McNair lives in Burien’s Gregory Heights neighborhood, near St. Francis of Assisi Parish and School.
Police add that the suspect stated in the arrest report that the reason he ran over the signs was to “retaliate” for McNair’s posting of a link to a document obtained from King County Elections. McNair posted a link to this public domain document (which has been distributed elsewhere) on The B-Town Blog’s Facebook page. It includes names (but not addresses) of those who signed a petition aimed at getting a Proposition on the Nov. 7 ballot to vote on Burien’s ‘Sanctuary City’ status. That proposition was denied by a King County Judge on Sept. 14.
“(The suspect) advised that he was angry at McNair for distributing peopleâ€™s identity online and felt he had to retaliate for what he did,” the police report states.
The criminal case has been referred to the city prosecutor with a recommendation that the suspect be charged with Malicious Mischief.
McNair said that he is also filing a protective order against the suspect, with a hearing set for Nov. 7, which ironically is Election Day.
Here’s McNair’s account of the first incident, which happened Oct. 9:
I didn’t initially react to seeing a silver 4-door sedan traveling southbound (the far lane from our house) cross the median and slow down, aiming for the shoulder at around 5 p.m. on Monday night, Oct. 9. I figured he was going to park there.
What was completely unexpected was that he would continue driving another 3-5 feet to arc onto our lawn, said arc coinciding entirely with all four of our signs, before returning to the southbound lane and driving off without any hesitation.
After he did this, I went outside, but was too late to do anything besides straighten my signs. I called the police and filed a report with as much detail as I could recall.
Here are photos showing the suspect vehicle’s path and the aftermath of his crime (click images to see larger versions):
Then, on Oct. 16, McNair says the same vehicle returned and once again mowed his signs down sometime between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“I called the cops, had them come out, talked to them and that was that,” McNair said.
But that wasn’t quite the end of it.
“At around 2 p.m. the guy came back and I watched him mow them down with his car again. I got the license plate number this time, and police found him.”
“We ask that residents leave campaign signs alone,” Capt. Bryan Howard said. “You should not move them unless you have permission of the campaign.”
Police add that they enforce sign thefts in the same manner as any other theft of property.
“To conduct an investigation, we would need a victim to come forward with a desire to cooperate with prosecution,” Howard told The B-Town Blog. “If we could identify the individual involved, we would refer the case to the prosecutor who may or may not file charges depending on the amount of loss and likelihood of proving the case.”
“Our advice to everyone is to leave campaign signs alone,” Howard added. “Do not move or take signs unless you have permission from the campaign who placed the sign in its current location.”
Running over, destroying, tampering or even moving election signs is a crime under RCW 29.A.84.040, and the defacement or removal of each item constitutes a separate violation. Those charged “shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a maximum term fixed by the court of not more than ninety days, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both such imprisonment and fine.”
Stealing, tampering and destroying signs during a heated election season is nothing new, and it certainly happens on both sides.
“Signs cost about $5 each,” Darla Green told The B-Town Blog. “Last election (2015), 133 of my signsÂ were stolen = $665, (and) this year I have ‘lost’ about 75.”
Each candidate we contacted about this issue told us theyÂ have lost at least 40 signs, with several losing many more.
“104 signsÂ have gone missing since the primary election, representing $520 that Burien community members have donated,” Krystal Marx said.