Washougal couple harassed over Biden-Harris sign

Residents frustrated after hostile letter, paintball attack, vandalism

A Washougal couple's outside camera captured this image of a person trying to tear down the couple's Biden-Harris campaign sign on Sept. 26. Washougal police have been unable to identify the suspect in the photos. (Contributed photos courtesy of Washougal Police Department)

A Washougal couple's outside camera captured this image of a person trying to tear down the couple's Biden-Harris campaign sign on Sept. 26. Washougal police have been unable to identify the suspect in the photos. (Contributed photos courtesy of Washougal Police Department)

A Washougal couple's outside camera captured this image of a person trying to tear down the couple's Biden-Harris campaign sign on Sept. 26. Washougal police have been unable to identify the suspect in the photos. (Contributed photos courtesy of Washougal Police Department)

The first page of an anonymous letter sent to a Washougal couple in mid-September after they posted a Biden-Harris campaign sign in support of the Democratic presidential candidates. (Contributed photo)

The second page of an anonymous letter from "the good citizens of Washougal" sent to a Washougal couple in mid-September after they posted a Biden-Harris campaign sign in support of the Democratic presidential candidates. (Contributed photo)

The letter arrived the day after a Washougal couple found their Biden-Harris campaign sign torn off their fence and flung across their street.

Addressed to “new Washougal resident” from “the good citizens of Washougal,” the couple said the letter’s message was clear: “Your kind is not welcome here.”

“The move to Washougal must have been quite a change for you,” the letter’s author wrote. “As a community we have always welcomed newcomers. Unfortunately in today’s political climate there has been an increase in nonresidents leaving their former state or communities. They are trying to escape the high tax structures they voted in or simply fear for their lives. … To put it simply, you defecate in your own back yard, hate the mess you created, escape to the suburbs, and continue the same bad behavior all over again. That bad behavior is not welcome here.”

The letter’s recipient, Steven (who did not want to use his full name for this article), said the author “assumed a lot.” “We lived in Washougal for over 30 years. About seven years ago we downsized from 5 acres and moved to Vancouver. We moved back to Washougal in February. … They don’t know anything about us. Our kids went to school here. They graduated here.”

The letter continues for a page and a half, bashing the Democratic Party, diving into conspiracy theories about the “deep state,” stating that “liberals (are) trying to take our everyday freedoms away” and telling the Washougal couple to rethink their political affiliations.

“It is very sad and depressing that you are so willing to give up your freedoms and take ours away,” the author told the Washougal couple. “Do not help destroy our wonderful country.”

Had the vaguely threatening letter been the end of it, the couple may have let it go. Unfortunately, the situation escalated that same evening, on Saturday, Sept. 19, when someone shot the couple’s house with a paintball gun.

Washougal police responded to the scene within 20 minutes, and the couple showed Officer Ryan Castro the letter and paintball splatters and told him someone also had ripped their Biden-Harris campaign sign off their fence.

“Aside from the paint mark, I did not see any actual physical damage,” Castro wrote in his police report on the incident. “The contents of the letter were political in nature but did not constitute any crime.”

In the end, Castro recommended suspending the case “due to lack of suspect information.”

One week later, on Saturday, Sept. 26, more information emerged. This time, the couple had photographic proof someone was vandalizing their Biden-Harris campaign signs.

“My wife and I were in our house around (5 p.m.) that evening. It had been rainy and cloudy, but then the sun came out. We looked out the window and my wife noticed a flash, but we thought it was just the sun coming out,” Steven said.

As photos from the couple’s wildlife camera would prove, that flash wasn’t the sun, but rather a person trying to remove the re-attached Biden-Harris sign from the couple’s wooden fence.

“It’s just saddening,” Steven said. “Just down the street there are Trump signs and flags and that’s fine. That’s their right.”

He added that the boldness of the most recent vandalism — the one caught on the wildlife cameras — also was disturbing.

“We’re on a busy street and this was done in broad daylight,” Steven said.

Washougal police officer Geoff Reijonen was assigned to investigate the photos of the person trying to tear down the couple’s Biden-Harris sign on Sept. 29.

In his report, Reijonen states that all of the photos show a white male suspect in his late teens to early 20s “attempting to remove one of Steven’s political signs attached to the top of his fence.”

On Sept. 30, Reijonen contacted Washougal High School administrators to see if they could help identify the suspect. When they could not, Reijonen recommended that the case be suspended “pending further investigative leads.”

Steven said he was pleased by the police response.

“The first officer, Officer Castro, was very nice and understanding,” Steven said. “I’m a police supporter. I used to work in corrections a long time ago. They did a good job.”

Steven said he and his wife hope the vandalism, letters and paintball attacks stop, “but we’ll wait and see what happens.”

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