Northern California Fans Find 56 Flags, Pro-Trump Slogans on Lawn

Concord police are investigating vandalism done to the Bay Area home of horror writer Jay Hartlove and past editor of the International Costumers Guild newsletter Denisen Hartlove. The Hartloves suspect it is the work of a neighbor.

NBC News reported:

A Northern California family is shocked and unsettled after someone cut electricity to their home and planted 56 American flags, seven of which were defaced with handwritten pro-Donald Trump messages, on their East Bay front lawn early Saturday morning.

Concord police are investigating the incident, reported by Jay and Denisen Hartlove, who live on Montana Drive in Concord.

….Some of the flags had “Build The Damn Wall” and “I Luv The Donald” written on them in black ink. The Hartloves say they are one of the more liberal families on the block, and believe they may have been targeted because of it.

“Why would someone do that?” Jay wondered. “I mean, (the vandal) must have spent 20 minutes out there putting the flags in. This is not some drive-by prank….I mean, where do you get 56 flags in November?”

Upon finding the flags, the couple was irked but not worried.

“We tried to brush it off – Trump flags aren’t going to hurt anyone,” Denisen said. “We sort of made light of the situation, like ha ha ha.” The couple confronted the neighbor who they think is responsible, but neither Jay nor Denisen got a response.

A short time later, at about 1:30 a.m., the situation became more serious. The Hartloves heard a huge bang and were plunged into complete darkness.

At first, they thought the abrupt loss of electricity could be related to the fireworks going off in the street hours earlier, but they soon discovered that the metering box connecting power to their property had been ripped off. It was then that they became worried and frightened for their safety, and the safety of their two daughters, who were asleep in bed.

“At that point, I thought we were under attack,” Denisen said.

The couple called the Concord Police Department and filed a police report with two officers, both of whom the Hartloves describe as being “very unhelpful.”

…Throughout the Bay Area and the nation, politically-motivated instances of harassment are being reported at an alarming rate, according to hate-tracking groups. As of Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center had noted 701 reports of harassment since election day.

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27 thoughts on “Northern California Fans Find 56 Flags, Pro-Trump Slogans on Lawn

  1. This is why, even in the very blue section of the very blue state that I live in, very few people put Hillary signs on their lawns. I was told by a number of people that they supported Clinton but feared retribution or vandalism. (To be fair, this might also explain the dearth of Trump signs in my area — or that might just be because I’m in a very blue state….) This is the first Presidential election I can remember where I saw virtually no national-race yard signs. Dozens and dozens of local and state race yard signs — but I only I saw three presidential race signs total. (Two Trump; one Clinton.)

  2. This is made even scarier by the statement that the police were “very unhelpful.” I keep saying “God bless America . . . and please hurry.”

  3. Linda Deneroff: This is made even scarier by the statement that the police were “very unhelpful.”

    It sounds as though the CPD decided to get more helpful after NBC got involved.

    It pisses me off that it takes the news media calling attention to a case in order for the police to take it seriously and actually do something about it.

  4. Houston is a very purple city in a red state. My particular neighborhood is more red than blue; in 2008, there were roughly equal numbers of McCain, Clinton, and Obama signs, but after Obama got the nomination almost all of the Clinton signs turned to McCain signs overnight. (Texas has open primaries, and it’s clear that a lot of those Clinton signs were Republicans crossing over to vote for the candidate they considered more defeatable.)

    This year there were 2 Trump signs and 1 Clinton sign. I wondered, last month, if this was because people were supporting Trump and ashamed to admit it, or supporting Clinton and afraid of becoming targets. Apparently it was mostly the former. 🙁

  5. The hell? That is scary and shows some deep, deep crazy of the methodical sort.

    The Hartloves are good people. Probably why they were targeted. Also b/c they’re weirdos, what with all that writin’ and wearin’ funny clothes, it’s un-Merican.

    @Cassy B: Same here. No national signs whatsoever (plenty the last 4 elections). Everything was about city council and mayor, which are legally non-partisan offices here (although everyone knows which party the candidates stand with).

  6. The hell? That is scary and shows some deep, deep crazy of the methodical sort.

    If you follow, you’ll see stories of this kind of crap going on all over now.

  7. You’d think the police would be more responsive to a violation of the United States Flag Code. Writing on the flag, for whatever reason, is considered a serious violation even if the penalties aren’t enforced.

  8. Jack Lint: I wouldn’t want to trivialize what happened to the Hartloves by wondering why city police aren’t investigating a federal violation they have no jurisdiction over.

  9. Hope they find the individual(s) responsible, arrest and convict them.

    Thirty days before the election I drove about 1000 miles throughout the Southeast on two business trips. I went through major cities (Atlanta, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Orlando) and through very rural areas. I drove about 60/40 interstates and back roads.

    I saw almost no Hillary bumper stickers or yard signs anywhere. The handful of bumper stickers were almost all in major metro areas. Trump yard signs and stickers were very heavy in rural areas in all six states I drove through. About 10% of the Trump yard signs were hand made. I saw maybe 10-1 Trump on bumper stickers and 30 – 1 on yard signs.

    Campaigns have different strategies and the Clinton campaign may not have stressed yard signs or bumper stickers. Or perhaps there were very few in the South East willing to proclaim their allegiance publically. 4 years ago I saw very few Romney yard signs, fewer Romney bumper stickers. Obama had far more bumper stickers and maybe 40% of yard signs.

  10. I wouldn’t want the police to get involved over a violation of the flag code, but I suspect the same people who vandalized those flags get very upset at the idea of anyone burning a flag as a protest.

    (The respectful thing to do with the scrawled-on flags, once they are no longer needed as evidence, would be to burn them. Burning flags in protest grows out of that: custom among those who care about flags is that a flag that has been damaged or dishonored should be burned, respectfully. The idea is that certain policies dishonor the nation and therefore the flag, so one flag is being burned to symbolize that.)

    But as OH said, the flag code is the least of the issues here.

  11. Pulling the electrical meter is dangerous to both the residents and to the person doing it – that’s serious vandalism, at the level of potentially killing someone. That in itself should have gotten the full attention of the cops.

  12. airboy: the Clinton campaign may not have stressed yard signs or bumper stickers. Or perhaps there were very few in the South East willing to proclaim their allegiance publically.

    I strongly suspect the latter. Even in the North, there were a lot of people who were afraid to post Clinton signs in their yards or have bumper stickers on their cars, precisely because of this sort of shit (some of which was happening well before the election). 🙁

  13. I drove a six state 3300 mile almost all rural road trip recently (it ended the week before the election). I saw some Trump road signs in Arizona, Nevada and Idaho, but no bumper stickers. I saw Clinton bumper stickers in Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada and road signs in those states plus Arizona and Idaho. I have no conclusions to draw from that, but I was surprised at the scarcity of Trump/Pence signs in what I would have thought of as Republican country.

    I’m really sorry about what happened to this family. I hope whoever did this is caught and tried.

  14. @Darren Garrison: today’s Boston Globe says that a new hate-crime line got >400 calls in one week — and that’s just for Massachusetts (the paper’s reach is wider); I wonder whether the SPLC was missing data or was only listing episodes that explicitly mentioned Trump. (The MA line includes a keyed “Go Home!”, mass distribution of Klan newspapers, etc.)

    @PJ Evans: vandalizing the electrical box might have been worth a Darwin Award; possibly whoever did it is taking their survival as evidence that they’re in good with God.

  15. Concord is a little suburb thirty or so miles from bluetastic enclaves like San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland. Slightly more conservative than surrounding towns, but it’s still in Northern California, i.e., hella hippies everywhere.

    I looked up a local article and found this one, which mentions they knew it was this one particular neighbor with whom they had disagreed earlier that evening regarding fireworks, and recognized him walking away after leaving the flags. Which is still infuriating, but is probably less horrific than random squads of villains descending on people re their political yard signs.

  16. Chip Hitchcock on November 28, 2016 at 5:39 pm said:
    At work, we got cautionary stories of people bypassing their gas meters. And occasionally news items about them doing it, generally even more cautionary. (The usual result is a fire, sometimes an explosion, and occasionally a fatality.)

  17. Huh, I saw that on a local news blog and didn’t realize there was a fannish angle. As others have noted, Concord is a shade more conservative than the more bayside parts of the Bay Area, but there have been Trump-inspired hate crimes in Berkeley, too, so it’s not a matter of pure geography.

  18. Not surprised at the initial unhelpful police work. As a profession, they seem to be as divided as the general population (with a greater ability to do harm).

    From what clues are available, the Hartloves are probably identified locally as “elites”, which seems to be code for anyone/anything not “normal” by today’s Trumpian standards. (My own brother has done essentially the same thing with me….)

    We all need to watch out for each other and we need to raise alarms earlier, rather than later. This kind of thing feeds on “success” and the only effective counter to it is public condemnation.

  19. @PJ Evans: I suspect gas takes a while to cause trouble after amateur errors; an electrical box might bite back immediately, or lie in wait for a long time. A friend got some interesting burns, and a dime-sized hole in his dikes, from finding a pirate service the hard way while clearing out wire after fire damage.

  20. If you follow, you’ll see stories of this kind of crap going on all over now.

    That’s OK–I don’t bother with rawstory since I got banned from commenting. It would have been nice to know just why I was banned, though.

  21. Damaging the electrical connection is a misdemeanor. That is a local police matter and they should have investigated to find out whether this is the start of a pattern (a felony). If this was a hate crime, the local police are required to investigate it. If they ignored a hate crime, the police department can be sued. Vandalism because of political affiliation is a hate crime (it was rare until this year).

    Technically, defacing an American Flag is a federal offence. However, the Supreme Court said flag burning was speach, so defacing the Flag is probably also protected.

    They should donate the intact flags to a charity like the VFW.

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