A Greenwich Police press release on Friday afternoon gave an update on the investigation into the damage and thefts of political signs in Town.
Police said they received a large number of complaints about signs having been removed or vandalized.
“We’ve been able to positively resolve some of these concerns,” Police said in the statement. “However, in many of the complaints there has been insufficient evidence to substantiate the complaint or prove who committed the questionable act.”
Last Sunday, a local group, Greenwich Voices for Democracy, said in a statement to local media that about 100 of their anti-Trump lawn signs were removed by the Town of Greenwich in violation of their First Amendment rights.
“It is imperative that the Town take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this type of infringement of Constitutional Rights does not recur and that whoever authorized their removal and removed them be held accountable,” said Sandy Litvack, former Greenwich Selectman who is chair of GVFD.
Indeed, according to the release from police on Friday, an investigation was conducted throughout the week.
“In one incident from last week, Town Department of Public Works employees were reported to have selectively removed political signs,” Police said on Friday, adding that their investigation included speaking with witnesses, canvassing for video footage, inspecting the signs in question and interviewing the Public Works workers and their supervisors.
“We have completed our investigation and submitted our findings to the State’s Attorney’s Office in Stamford.”Greenwich Police Statement, Oct 30, 2020
Police explained that earlier this week, a patrol officer witnessed an individual take down and remove a political sign. The officer arrested a 25 year old Greenwich woman and charged her with Larceny and Criminal Mischief.
“In another incident, officers determined that a juvenile removed four political signs from private property. In yet another incident, a physical
altercation broke out over someone placing a political sign on public property,” police said.
Police said that the individuals they found responsible for these incidents have come from various sides of the political debate.
On Saturday, Cheryl Moss from Greenwich Voices for Democracy said Greenwich Police returned 18 signs to her on Wednesday morning.
“Although I was permitted to collect some of the stolen GVFD signs at police headquarters, these do not account for all our missing signs,” Moss said. “Besides those retrieved from a dumpster at the DPW depot by the police,there are still many other signs unaccounted for. We are awaiting an update from GPD as to what has been done.”
“We will continue to investigate complaints regarding political signs and will issue appropriate enforcement based on the requirements set forth in Connecticut General Statutes and judicial policy,” police said in their statement. “We encourage the public to civilly engage in the political process, appreciate one another’s right to free speech and respect the property of others.”
“The Greenwich Police Department recognizes that political and social tensions have been on the rise across the country and even here in Greenwich. There has been a lot of speculation how this will play out on Election Day and navigating these concerns in a fair and impartial manner is a priority for us. We are committed to meeting this challenge. As with all matters, our goals are protecting the community, preserving life and upholding the Constitutions of the US and the State of Connecticut. Our pledge is to support democracy in a non-partisan way that protects everyone’s right to vote.”– Police Chief James J. Heavey
Later Friday afternoon Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo and Congressman Jim Himes issued a statement regarding election civility and tolerance.
“As the Democratic Congressman from the Fourth Congressional District, and the Republican First Selectman from Greenwich, we sometimes have our disagreements. However, we stand together in our hope for civility, respect, and kindness,” Himes and Camillo said. “As we did together years ago as chairmen of the two local political parties, we urge all residents to respect the right of others to express their opinion, refrain from personal attacks, and look for those things that we have in common, not just for those in which we disagree. We encourage debate, but urge that it be done with the respect and civility.”
“We are and will be friends and neighbors before, during and after the election. Where there is antipathy, bad behavior and strife elsewhere, let us be an example to the rest of the Nation when it comes to how we conduct our elections.”