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Police investigating after political billboard is vandalized with threatening graffiti

A Dustin Manwaring campaign billboard in Pocatello was vandalized with threatening graffiti over the weekend. | Courtesy Dustin Manwaring
POCATELLO — A political billboard in Pocatello has been vandalized with threatening graffiti.
The billboard, advertising State Representative Dustin Manwaring’s re-election campaign, includes a picture of the candidate with the words “re-elect Manwaring” printed in large lettering. Sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning, the word “kill” was spray-painted onto the billboard with “re-elect” crudely crossed out. What appears to be a coat-hanger was also spray-painted near the neck of the representative’s photo.
In a statement to EastIdahoNews.com, Manwaring said he reported the graffiti and written threat to Pocatello police and Idaho State Police.
“Saturday afternoon, I learned about some graffiti on one of my local campaign billboards for re-election to the Idaho House of Representatives. When I drove over to see it, my wife and I were shocked and disturbed when we saw the written threat,” the statement says. … “I am saddened that local politics has turned so vicious.”
In the statement, Manwaring says the incident “hit home” when he was forced to explain to his young child why officers were at their home.
“I am primarily concerned with making sure my family is safe and knowing if this is someone confused about politics and not a real threat beyond the vandalism,” it says.
Manwaring’s campaign has been attacked recently over his stance on reproductive rights and access to abortions.
Pro-Choice Southeast Idaho, a Pocatello-based organization in support of abortion rights, tweeted its condemnation of the graffiti and threats.
“We’ve been informed that a Dustin Manwarinng billboard has been vandalized with the word ‘kill.’ As a reminder, PCSEI is a peaceful group that doesn’t support vandalism/threats/violence directed toward anyone,” the tweet reads. “We’re deeply upset that anyone would threaten someone like this.”
In his statement, Manwaring said that this sort of threatening vandalism is unlike anything he has ever seen in Pocatello.
“I have asked Rep. James Ruchti, my Democratic colleague, and the Democrat Party to affirmatively state that they do not condone this behavior because it exceeds all sense of decency and civility in politics and elections,” the release says. “We are better than this in Pocatello.”
A joint statement from the Bannock County Democrats — including Ruchti and Mary Shea, who is Manwaring’s opponent for District 29 Seat A of the State House — condemns the graffiti and violent threats.
“The defacing of Representative Manwaring’s billboard with a threat of violence is wrong. It is absolutely, unequivocally wrong and should be condemned by both parties, all candidates and their supporters in the firmest terms,” the statement says. “We must do better, our democracy depends on it.”
Shea told EastIdahoNews.com that both Ruchti and fellow Democrat Nate Roberts — running for District 29 Seat B — have received hateful and threatening personal messages as well.
“This kind of politics is dangerous for our democracy,” she said. “We have to listen to each other and respect each other again, even when the subject matter is difficult and personal. I condemn what happened to Dustin’s billboards unequivocally and I condemn any threats and disinformation being lodged by anyone. We can disagree and distinguish ourselves legitimately and fairly without being hateful. That is what most Idahoans want to see from all of us.”
The post Police investigating after political billboard is vandalized with threatening graffiti appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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