Thursday, October 28, 2004

Election Violence

You know this is a highly divided nation approaching a wild election. The violence is starting already and it's not just yard sign stealers.

Election spat gets violent, leads to arrest
By Andrew Marra
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2004

Steven Soper liked his girlfriend, but authorities say he liked President Bush more. When his girlfriend suggested this week she wanted to vote for John Kerry, officials allege it was too much for the 18-year-old Bush supporter. A political argument prompted him to end their two-year relationship — and that was just for starters. Sheriff's officials say Soper, a Marines recruit, later became so upset that he dragged 18-year-old Stacey Silveira into his suburban Lake Worth home, beat her and held her hostage with a screwdriver.

The attack led to a standoff with a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy that ended with Soper being zapped with a Taser and arrested, endangering his chances of serving in the Marines. "He's crazy about Bush," she said. "He kept saying he was going to die in the Marines if I voted for Kerry." During a struggle inside the home, he allegedly threatened her with a jagged shard of a broken pot and later with a screwdriver. At one point, according to the report, he handed her a knife and asked her to kill him.

"He told me to just kill him because if I vote for Kerry it's just going to kill him anyway," she said. While they fought, according to officials, Soper asked her: "You want (to) live to see the election?" He was arrested on charges of aggravated battery, false imprisonment and resisting arrest without violence. He was being held at the Palm Beach County Jail without bail until a mental health assessment was completed. Silveira, for her part, says she still intends to vote for Kerry.

Knight Ridder Newspapers

A man driving a silver Cadillac drove up on a sidewalk and nearly hit U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris as an exercise in "political expression," authorities said Wednesday. Harris, R-Fla., was campaigning for re-election with several volunteers Tuesday evening when a car ripped through an intersection, hopped the curb and headed for Harris, a Sarasota Police Department report stated.

The car veered away from Harris at the last second, but not before witnesses got the car's license plate number. Police later arrested Barry M. Seltzer, a 46-year-old self-employed real estate investor, on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was being held in the Sarasota County Jail on Wednesday without bond.

No one answered the telephone or door at Seltzer's Sarasota home. The Cadillac was still in the driveway, next to a Kerry-Edwards sign that appeared to have been vandalized. Seltzer is a registered Democrat, according to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office, but Democrats campaigning for Harris' opponent, Jan Schneider, were appalled by the incident. Schneider's campaign manager said they did not know Seltzer.

According to the arrest report, Seltzer first claimed that Harris and the volunteers were standing in the street, impeding traffic. Then, he said, he "intimidated them" with his car. "I was exercising my political expression!" Seltzer told police, according to the arrest report. "I did not run them down, I scared them a little!"

Posted on Tue, Oct. 26, 2004
Associated Press

Vandals struck GOP headquarters, hurling a chunk of concrete through a glass door and knocking down a life-sized cardboard poster of President Bush. No one was hurt. There were no arrests in the incident at Santa Cruz County's Republican headquarters, police said Monday. The vandals struck after the office closed Friday night and before workers returned Saturday morning. "Emotionally it's a blow," said Jane Armstrong of the Santa Cruz County Republican Central Committee. "I like to believe this is a free country. It's disappointing to think people are intolerant."

On Monday, the Bush campaign provided a list of more than 40 examples of vandalism or violence since July, including the burglaries that included the thefts of laptop computers, banners and cash.

In response, Democrats countered with a list of 19 incidents aimed at the campaign of Sen. John Kerry, including a bullet that was fired into a supporter's house, graffiti at campaign offices, the smashing of a mailbox bearing Kerry campaign stickers and the theft of a laptop.

Break-Ins, Shootings Mar Bush-Kerry Race
Oct. 28, 2004

Thieves smash into a political office, grab laptop computers or paper documents containing political campaign secrets, strategy or voter information — and then dash off into the night. It may sound like a plot out of a political spy thriller — but that basic scenario has been a real-world occurrence this election season at Democratic offices in Ohio and Pennsylvania, a Republican office in Washington state, a voter registration organization in New Mexico and the home of a historian in California. Following are details on some of the incidents:

Oct. 12: A Kerry campaign volunteer discovers evidence of an overnight break-in at Lucas County Democratic Party offices in Toledo, Ohio. Three computers are missing, including one that belonged to a lawyer employed by the Kerry campaign to prevent voter fraud. Police later probe a suspect with a lengthy criminal record. "We think the motivation was just a criminal theft," Toledo police Capt. Ron Spann says. "We don't think it was political at all. … We don't have any reason to think that."

Oct. 6: Four windows are broken after hours at the Fairbanks, Alaska, Interior Republican campaign headquarters used by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Bush campaign, following a broken window the prior weekend, the AP reports. A Murkowski campaign official says a ball bearing was found days later, and believes a slingshot was used.

Oct. 5: Protesters storm and vandalize a Bush-Cheney office in Orlando, Fla., leaving a campaign worker with a broken arm from the resulting struggle, Fletcher says.

Oct. 5: Someone apparently fires shots through glass doors at a Knoxville, Tenn., office used by Republican Party volunteers to distribute campaign buttons, lawn signs and other election paraphernalia. The office had not yet opened for the day and nobody was injured. "It could have been politically motivated, but we don't know," Knoxville police spokesman Darrell DeBusk says. "It could have been a prank by some teenagers." 

Oct. 2: Three computers containing Republican campaign plans are taken overnight after someone throws a rock through a window at Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters in Bellevue, Wash., police say.
Sept. 2: A gunshot shatters a window at GOP headquarters in Huntington, W.Va., as workers are gathered to watch Bush's speech during the Republican National Convention, police say.

Aug. 31: Someone shoots out a window at Centre County Democratic headquarters in State College, Pa., apparently with a slingshot, police say. Witnesses hear the glass shatter, but no gunshot, and see a white car zipping away. Police have no motive, but suggest it may not be political. "We have numerous incidents of criminal mischief with slingshots and BB guns in this town," State College police Sgt. Mark Argiro says. "You can imagine — a town with about 40,000 college students."

You have to wonder how bad it might get. Most experts believe this election is going to be razor thin in many states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. With so much memory still of the 2000 election and the ensuing battle of the lawyers in Florida, plenty of people expect a rerun this year. There is much hate of Kerry and Bush from the opposition. I suspect that the violence is going to get worse, particularily if the election is too close to call in several states.


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