Though attendees at Republican Rep. Tom McClintock’s rowdy town hall in Mariposa on Tuesday remained largely peaceful, one person wasn’t as they slashed the tires of four vehicles, at least two of them owned by critics of McClintock and President Donald Trump as the meeting took place.
The Mariposa California Highway Patrol is seeking the suspect, or suspects, responsible.
In a statement issued Wednesday morning, CHP Lt. Becky Hagen said all four vehicles were owned by residents of Mariposa County. She said the office was “deeply troubled” by what happened.
“This is not how democracy works,” Hagen said. “Aside from the fact that this is both legally and morally wrong, it is a cowardly thing to do. To the guilty person(s), even if you do not agree with some of the people who attended the meeting, at least they had the guts to stand up, show their faces, and speak their minds in an open forum. That is far better than sneaking around in the dark, destroying personal property.”
Hagen said the office will “exhaust every effort” to find the people responsible and hold them accountable. She asked anyone with information to call the CHP at (209) 966-3656.
Mike Cleary, who attended McClintock’s town hall with an Uncle Sam hat and a sign reading “dissent is patriotic,” owned one of the vehicles with slashed tires, a Subaru Forester.
He said “without a doubt” he felt he was targeted for expressing opposition towards both McClintock and Trump.
“I think people were trying to suppress my dissent of what is happening to our country,” Cleary said. “It’s just sad.”
One woman, who wished to remain anonymous and owned a station wagon that had its tires slashed, said supporters of the Republican party in Mariposa have made aggressive statements towards others on social media in recent weeks.
“They’ve said stuff like ‘the lefties up here should pay,’” the woman said. “It doesn’t feel safe. I mean, look what happened. This just isn’t safe.”
CHP Officer Adrian Perez said there was no evidence of a tie between the victims, their vehicles, or whoever vandalized them. A rumor was spread that stickers supporting Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, was on each vehicle but that was proven false. Perez said the investigation is ongoing.
McClintock’s office could not be immediately reached for comment. Tuesday’s town hall was his first after a raucous meeting on Feb. 4 in Roseville, where he was escorted out by police.
McClintock’s third town hall is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Sonora High School.