Only on 10: Two RI candidates say they are victims in campaign sign vandalism, theft
With primary and general elections set to take place in September and November, campaign signs are everywhere.
But two candidates, Bob Flanders and Kobi Dennis, said their signs have been vandalized and stolen in two Rhode Island communities.
In East Greenwich, Flanders, who faces off against Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse for the U.S. Senate, said he’s distressed over the vandalism.
“We just want to make sure that people respect private property and that this kind of behavior is not acceptable,” said Flanders. “I'm hoping that we don't have to prosecute people, but it may be necessary.”
A volunteer for Flanders said he went to the East Greenwich police to file a complaint about a sign repeatedly taken down at Division and Signal Ridge this past week. The volunteer said he was shocked by what he was told.
“The detectives from the police department or a police officer had said that they had instructed someone to remove the sign at night,” Flanders’ Campaign Manager Richard Kirby said.
After two consecutive nights where that sign was vandalized, one of the campaign volunteers decided to put a hidden camera in a nearby tree. When the East Greenwich police were allegedly confronted with the revelation that footage exists, Kirby reacted.
“That's when the clarification was made that they didn't have anything to do with the third night," he said.
Meanwhile, Dennis is in the September mayoral primary, hoping to unseat Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza in November. He told NBC 10 News his campaign signs that he personally put up all over the city have been stolen.
On Broad Street, Cadillac Drive, as well as other areas of Providence, signs have been stolen only allegedly to be replaced by Robert DeRobbio signs.
“It's part of being the whole outsider. I'm the newcomer. I'm the guy that's never been in politics,” said Dennis. “It's kind of being bullied.”
As recently as Wednesday, Dennis said someone stole one of his campaign signs and fled the scene when he was confronted.
“I put about 10 signs on Cadillac Drive next to Mayor Elorza and DeRobbio signs last week and they were missing Saturday morning,” Dennis said.
After travelling down Cadillac Drive on Saturday, Dennis said the only signs that were visible were DeRobbio signs. Dennis said DeRobbio reached out to him after seeing his Facebook post and apologized, saying he will make sure his campaign team knows and ensured it won’t happen again.
“I was upset about it and think it’s very unfair,” Dennis said.
Dennis, who founded the Midnight Basketball League and Project Night Vision several years ago, said he is focused on running a civilized campaign and won’t allow his opponents to bully him.
“I had to let the people know as I did on Facebook, I will not be bullied,” he said.
While Dennis has no evidence in Providence, the clear pictures in East Greenwich are curious.
NBC 10 reached out to the East Greenwich police chief, but did not hear back.
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(NBC 10's Miles Montgomery contributed to this report.)