Rockford, Illinois police are investigating after cowardly vandals targeted the Winnebago County Republican Headquarters this weekend, apparently motivated by accusations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The creative graffiti artists spray-painted the word “RAPE” in all caps repeatedly on four sides of the six-sided L-shaped building Saturday night or early Sunday and police discovered the vandalism around 10 a.m., the Rockford Register Star reports.
“This is not who we are. I am extremely disappointed in the individual responsible for the ugliness at our local Republican HQ. Clearly, this person needs help,” Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney told WREX.
“As a Republican, I am saddened and angry. I am also sad to see other folks in my party unfairly labeled and mischaracterized,” Haney said. “Negative generalizations about a group of people has never served us well as a country. This situation is no different. Attacks of this nature aim to silence and destroy, neither of which will occur.”
The “RAPE” message was scrawled in red, blue and black, with the word “SHAME” in gold. There was also the date 9/27/18 – the day California college professor Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about Kavanaugh’s alleged attempt to dry hump her at a drinking party when they were teenagers more than three decades ago.
Kavanaugh defended himself against the allegations the same day, denying any sexual interaction with Ford at any time. He has also strongly refuted other allegations that have surfaced since Democrats revealed Ford’s claims just one day before Senators were set to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Republicans contend Senate Democrats aim to ruin Kavanaugh’s reputation to derail or delay his confirmation until after the November 2018 election in hopes of gaining control of the Senate and seating a liberal justice instead. Attorney Jim Thompson, chairman of the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee and partner at a law office that shares the building, believes the vandals are simply following the example set by Democrats in Washington.
“Hate has no place in the political process,” he said at a press conference in front of the building. “Violence has no place in the political process. … We do not seek to capitalize on victims’ lives or memories to advance a purely political agenda as seen in the past month by Sen. (Dianne) Feinstein and our own Sen. (Dick) Durbin.”
“The Winnebago County Republican Central Committee Headquarters is located in the building in which seven women work each day,” he added. “It’s the place in which over two dozen female precinct committeemen meet to fulfill their commitment to our community They should not have to be afraid because some people could not control their hate.”
Other area Republicans offered a similar take.
“These are the unintended consequences when you take politics to a level at (Feinstein) did,” Illinois state Sen. Dave Syverson said. “Unfortunately this probably won’t be the last.”
Syverson told the Register Star the attack will likely prove counterproductive.
“I certainly hope they will find and prosecute the person who is responsible,” he said. “I think in the end this will hurt the legitimacy of the #MeToo movement.”
State Rep. John Cabello seemed to agree.
“I hope whoever is responsible for this will be brought to justice,” Cabello posted to Facebook. “You are a coward for doing it unless you come forward!”
He told the Star the vandalism “crossed the line.”
“We can have a good spirited debate, but the minute you start to damage other people’s property, you’ve crossed the line,” Cabello said.
Republicans also weren’t the only ones to condemn the hate graffiti.
“This type of behavior is unacceptable and certainly does not live up to our community’s values,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, a Democrat, posted to Facebook. “We all have differences but we must learn to disagree on policy without attacking people.
“I’ve also directed our Public Works staff to have this graffiti removed immediately.”
The Register Star reports workers were on the scene scrubbing away Sunday.