'Hate has no home here' signs run over, stolen in Ledyard

Ledyard — A row of lawn signs with "Hate has no home here" printed on them were repeatedly run over before being stolen Thursday in Ledyard.

Ten signs, intended to spread hope and peace in the community, were stolen Thursday afternoon from Route 117, where resident Jennifer Holdsworth had put them on display. Earlier in the week, video footage captured by another Ledyard resident showed a silver hatchback vehicle that appears to have New York license plates veering off the road to run over the signs.

The signs were run over or torn down at least eight times this week.

Related story: Ledyard man issued ticket after ‘Hate has no home here’ signs run over, stolen

Jennifer Holdsworth, who lives on Spruce Street, had posted the signs along the route near the back of her property. She said that she and a group of fellow Ledyard residents pooled together the funds to purchase the signs from a nonpartisan company, in response to an act of vandalism earlier this month in which a swastika was spray-painted over a homemade pro-Trump political sign on Gallup Hill Road.

"We wanted to make an impression around town," Holdsworth said. "There's been some things that have been going on that haven't been so pleasant, so we just wanted to put a positive message out there."

Though the signs were meant to make a statement in response to the swastika vandalism, they lasted only four hours before being vandalized, themselves.

Holdsworth said she put two signs up about 1 p.m. Monday, and within a few hours she found them knocked down — the cardboard signs themselves and the metal stakes attached were bent, she said. She fixed the signs and put them back up, only to find them torn down again that evening.

On Tuesday, Holdsworth took down the two damaged signs to bring them to police but put three new signs up about 9 a.m. In just a few hours, they were torn down.

Two of Holdsworth's neighbors, who did not want to be identified, decided to put their trail camera up in a nearby tree for a few hours Tuesday, after all five damaged signs had been put back up. In just a few hours, they captured video footage of the same vehicle driving back and forth, purposely running over the signs at least six times throughout the day.

In a few instances, the vehicle can be seen running over the signs and driving off, only to return less than 10 minutes later and run over them again.

"It's disturbing that somebody would spend all day long driving by my property and destroying my signs," said Holdsworth, adding that the signs and the company that made them had no political affiliation attached. The signs look patriotic, with red white and blue coloring.

The signs were purchased from the Hate Has No Home Here Project, which seeks to declare neighborhoods and communities as places free from hate speech and behavior, according to its website, hatehasnohome.org. The signs say "Hate has no home here" in English in large white letters, with the message repeating below in a few different languages, including Spanish and Hebrew.

"I'm not sure of the motivation behind what's happening, but it's frustrating," Holdsworth said.

On Wednesday morning, she put up five damaged signs and five new signs. By 2 p.m. Thursday, they all had been stolen.

Holdsworth and her neighbor reported the vandalism to police and brought a DVD with the video files to the police station. Ledyard police Chief John Rich confirmed that the department had received two reports about the signs being damaged and were investigating the vandalism.

Rich said that the department also still was investigating the swastika that appeared on the political sign earlier this month but had not identified any suspects.

t.hartz@theday.com

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