TRAPPE — Police say they have been unable to identify an individual who was caught on video in September chainsawing the center out of a large political sign posted near a local Democratic leader’s farm off of U.S. Route 50 in Trappe.
The person in the video, wearing what appears to be jeans and a T-shirt, can be seen walking up to a Biden-Harris campaign sign, firing up a power tool and sawing a large hole the middle of it. When the vandal finishes sawing, two pieces of the sign from the severed center drop to the ground and the perpetrator hurries off.
The defaced campaign sign, which has since been fixed, belongs to Patrick Firth, who happens to chair the Talbot County Democratic Central Committee. Firth’s sign is on the edge of his farm off the highway near Howell Point Road in Trappe.
Firth said the sign had previously been defaced and the police recommended that he put up a deer camera to try to catch the sign vandal in the act. Within an hour of him fixing the sign and setting up the camera, he said, the sign was being butchered with a saw.
“First time it was just the sign was cut out of the frame. The frame was left standing,” Firth said. He said he reported the incident to police and explained to responding deputies, “’We’re not trying to agitate or aggravate this guy, but this is private property.’”
Firth said he contemplated moving the sign further back from the road so opposers don’t have to look at the sign everyday, but he left it in place. He speculated the vandal had been watching him reinstall the sign and was planning his attack because “15 minutes after we left, that sign was getting sawed up.”
The local Democratic leader said he handed over the video footage to police with the hope they would identify the person, but detectives on the case determined, “given that it was a misdemeanor, it really wasn’t worth their time to continue investigating,” Firth said.
Capt. John Bollinger with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office said the police still had not identified the sign butcher as of Wednesday, Oct. 28. He said the culprit captured in the September 29 video does not appear to be a juvenile.
“Most of the time it is just juveniles who think it’s funny to wreck people’s stuff, but every once in a while you get that guy who just can’t stand your political choice and takes actions on his own,” Bollinger said of the sign destroyer’s conduct.
Video of the incident has received nearly 2,000 views on YouTube. Firth said he hadn’t planned on sharing the video on a public platform, but once he learned the police weren’t going to dissect it in an investigation, he decided to post it to YouTube.
Firth voiced concern for continued sign mischief during this contentious 2020 presidential election cycle, especially as the Nov. 3 election day nears. He said if attacks like the one levied against his signage persist, that will only encourage more of the same behavior.
Campaign signs for both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have been stolen, vandalized and destroyed during the 2020 presidential campaign. Supporters from both presidential camps have also been heckled and at times harassed during roadside and other rallies on the Eastern Shore.