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    Wednesday, June 12, 2024

    Vandalism is wrong, no matter the cause

    In a recent interview with The Day, Kevin Blacker described painting several pink stripes across the front doors of the state Capitol Friday. What he did is wrong. Damaging property is not a legitimate form of protest. He was charged by State Capitol Police on Tuesday.

    Blacker intended to raise awareness of what he sees as a great injustice. We had reservations about publishing an editorial at all, knowing it gives him the attention he craves. Our greater concern, however, is that his act is indicative of the growing incivility in our body politic. While it is not nearly as egregious as invading the U.S. Capitol to block the results of an election or vandalizing a police station out of frustration with police misconduct, it is cut from the same cloth.

    Regardless of political priorities, we all must stand on the correct side of this slippery slope.

    It is not the first time. In 2020 Blacker admitted using pink paint to cover directional signs leading to State Pier. His trial for criminal mischief remains pending. The pink references the pink house of Susette Kelo, who joined neighbors in opposing the seizing by eminent domain of their homes in New London’s Fort Trumbull area. In its Kelo v. City of New London ruling the Supreme Court found the use of eminent domain constitutional.

    We recall no acts of vandalism by Kelo supporters. And though they lost the case, by working within the law they prevailed in the court of public opinion. In the wake of the Kelo decision, laws were passed across the country restricting the use of eminent domain.

    Blacker’s cause is State Pier in New London. He has for several years sought in any way he can to derail the plans to rebuild the pier to support offshore wind-power projects. He considers the process behind the project to be corrupt, the cost excessive, the environmental damage unacceptable, the logic of the plan flawed, and the lack of accountability for misdeeds frustrating. Blacker made it the core issue in his run for Congress as the Green Party candidate.

    He should be credited with shining a light on the misdeeds of the port authority, but his pointed emails and questions at press conferences and meetings are acceptable and sometimes effective. Vandalism is not.

    People grow frustrated with all sorts of things involving government. Some decry high taxes and see government as wasteful. Some say the rich should be taxed more and not enough is done to help the needy or address inequality. Some folks see politics as corrupted by the influence of campaign spending, others see campaign spending as a form of free speech.

    The list goes on and on.

    What if everyone who was frustrated that their cause was not being adequately addressed turned to defacing property or other acts of vandalism to make their point? That would be anarchy.

    Instead, the United States has a democratic republic and the rule of law. If the nation wants to retain self-governance, citizens must respect the process and work within it, as frustrating as it can be. Defacing the seat of democratic governance is unacceptable.

    The editorial board took the same position when protesters in 2020 vandalized the Christopher Columbus statue in New London, which was later removed. While expressing understanding of their cause, our editorial then stated, “We don’t condone damaging property.”

    Vandalism is not peaceful civil disobedience.

    Painting public property is unlikely to win many converts to Blacker’s cause. Going forward, he should leave the paintbrush at home.

    The Day editorial board meets with political, business and community leaders to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Timothy Dwyer, Executive Editor Izaskun E. Larraneta, Owen Poole, copy editor, and Lisa McGinley, retired deputy managing editor. The board operates independently from The Day newsroom.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.