Several Trump signs spray painted with swastika in Mandarin neighborhood, report says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE 9/23/20 1:55 A.M.: David Hines, whose campaign sign for President Donald Trump was among several defaced with red spray-painted swastikas this week in Mandarin, tells Action News Jax early Wednesday morning he’s removed the defaced sign from his yard.

Hours before his decision to remove the sign, Hines told Action News Jax on Tuesday he intended to leave the defaced sign standing, with a handwritten message he added below the swastika reading, ‘Biden did this.’

At the time, Hines said he planned to leave the defaced sign and attached message in his yard through the presidential election.

Hines sent Action News Jax pictures early Wednesday morning appearing to show the defaced sign, and attached message blaming democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden, had been removed.

Hines tells us he decided to remove the defaced sign, in part, due to fear of retaliation against loved ones.

Additionally, he credits the decision to take it down with the plea of his neighbor, Iris Kraemer, who also spoke to Action News Jax on Tuesday.

Kraemer, who is president of the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, told Action News Jax Reporter Ryan Nelson she found the symbol spray-painted onto signs in the neighborhood, and left standing as of Tuesday in Hines' yard, extremely offensive.

Kraemer said Tuesday she wanted the defaced sign taken down, no matter its reason for being there.

Hines' statement:

"To Action News JAX,

I have removed the defaced Trump sign from my front yard on Beauclerc for two reasons:

1) Spouse’s fear of Liberal reprisal, and

2) Ms. Kramer’s plea that I viewed for the first time on your 11 pm report.

I was going to call Ms. Kramer in the morning to talk about it, but when I learned of the fears at home, I immediately removed the sign.

I still plan to talk to Ms. Kramer tomorrow.

Thank you for updating your report."


ORIGINAL STORY: David Hines tells Action News Jax he found out Tuesday morning someone had spray-painted a swastika on President Donald Trump’s campaign sign in front of his home off Beauclerc Road.

“They took my sign, which is my free speech, and put a terrible message on there,” Hines said.

Hines says he was on the way out of his Mandarin home to campaign for the president when he was alerted to the swastika by an officer on scene investigating similar markings on his neighbors' Trump signs.

According to a report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO), an officer responded to Beauclerc Road and Scott Mill Road at 7:44 a.m. about a criminal mischief complaint.

The responding JSO officer states in the report he saw several signs for Trump along Beauclerc Road spray-painted with red swastikas.

Hines tells us he’s not taking the defaced Trump sign down because he’s added a new message to it.

“So, I have edited my sign to say, ‘Biden did this,’” said Hines. “So, everyone who passes by Beauclerc road will know exactly who is responsible for this.”

Hines explained why he’s blaming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for the graffiti.

“How does the other side react to everything? ‘Trump did it!’ Everything’s ‘Trump!’ So, Biden did that. I’m sorry,” Hines said.

Iris Kraemer is Hines' neighbor and president of the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville.

“It’s a symbol of hatred, and it is something that our country fought against, and we prevailed,” said Kraemer. “There were many people that died fighting against that, and all that it represented. There were so many millions of people killed in the name of hatred.”

Kraemer tells Action News Jax Mandarin is home to many Jewish families, synagogues, and schools. She wants the sign taken down, no matter why it’s up.

“There isn’t anybody who benefits from displaying a sign that represents those thoughts and feelings, and really, I think it’s abhorrent,” Kraemer said.

Hines tells us he’s leaving the defaced sign, along with his new message of ‘Biden did this,’ up through November’s election.

“I understand the visceral reaction,” Hines said. “However, that is not my speech. My speech is just below, and that’s where I’m going to leave it.”

The report states the first victim, whose identity is redacted from the report, told the responding officer that on Monday, he’d replaced two Trump signs that had been stolen from his yard recently. According to the report, the first victim noticed Tuesday morning his signs had been spray-painted.

The report states a second victim also had a Trump sign that had a swastika spray-painted on it.

The officer then states in the report that he saw signs at other locations with a similar marking.

The report lists the offense as “Graffiti – Defacing property; Painting.”

The report says police did not locate any video of the incident.

Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert, Dale Carson, says these cases can be difficult to prosecute.

“There’s very little police can actually do,” said Carson. “The only way to identify, of course, is typically with video.”

Carson tells us the crime described in the report is a ‘Class C’ offense and is punishable by up to 60 days in custody and a $100 fine.

Hines says he moved to Jacksonville about four months ago and doesn’t know who may have spray-painted the swastikas on his neighborhood’s Trump signs.

Police are asking anyone with information, or video, to come forward.

“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is looking into this incident,” said JSO spokesperson Cheyenne Meyer. “We would ask anyone with information to call us at 904-630-0500 or email us at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. It would be helpful for those in the neighborhood to review their security footage if they have cameras and to call us if they observe suspicious people or activity.”