OMAO — For Steve Yoder, seeing a Donald Trump sign torn down and sprayed with graffiti on private property in Omao on Thursday was the last straw.
“Someone took black spray to it, then it was torn down. It must have happened 30 minutes before I got there because the owner of the property said he had just been outside, and it was still up,” he said. “It wasn’t the wind.”
Yoder, who is the chairman of the Kauai Republican Party, said three Trump banners have been vandalized in one way or another on the island.
“Enough is enough,” he said. “Two have been torn down, one has lewd graffiti on it.”
Pictures sent to The Garden Island show drawings of parts of the male anatomy drawn on Trump-Pence signs. Other pictures show signs that are completely torn down.
Instances of vandalism have been going on for months, Yoder said.
“I’ve had 14 signs stolen out of my own yard. The moment I started putting up signs up, they’d be gone,” he said. “At first, they were torn down or run over, then banners started getting vandalized.”
Yard signs cost $5, but some families take it upon themselves to make their own, and that can cost about $35. Banners cost anywhere between $40 and $60, plus the cost of the materials to put them up, Yoder said.
“So it gets expensive,” he said.
Potential charges for vandalizing private property are criminal trespass in the second degree or criminal property damage in the fourth degree, assuming damage is less than $500, said Justin Kollar, Kauai County prosecuting attorney.
Both are petty misdemeanors and are punishable by 30 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Yoder said he has no idea who the culprits are, but he doesn’t think the Democratic Party of Kauai has anything to do with it.
On Friday, the Kauai Police Department could not confirm if there were any vandalism reports made to the police relating to the Trump signs.
“I know a lot of key people (at the DPK), and I know they wouldn’t support this,” Yoder said.
Steven Nishimura, president of the Democratic Party of Kauai, said he doesn’t support the vandalism.
“It is unfortunate that some maliciously damage property and I hope these are random acts,” he said.
Nishimura said he hasn’t heard of anyone defacing Hillary Clinton signs.
“Although there is a strong presence of Democrats supporting their candidate, there is no spiteful agenda against the opponent,” he said.
It’s the principle of the vandalism that upsets Yoder the most.
“We have the right in our country to freely elect people to represent us,” he said. “Whether or not someone agrees with a candidate, they have the right to show their support of the nominee without the fear of repercussions.”
The culprits should be ashamed of themselves, Yoder added.
“It’s theft, it’s vandalism, it’s rude and it’s crude,” he said. “There’s no way of sugar-coating what they are doing.”
But the Kauai Republican Party has no plans to halt their campaigning. Yoder has already ordered more banners to replace the ones that have been defaced. This time, he plans on attaching an American flag to the banners.
“We’ll see if they have have the guts to tear down Old Glory,” he said.