Politics

Ohio Bloomberg Vandalism Incident Was More Like “Littering,” Cops Say

Signs outside Bloomberg HQ in Youngstown, Ohio, spray-painted with the words "oligarch" and "stop and frisk."
WFMJ-TV/NBC 21

On Monday, a Twitter thread from Team Bloomberg and an accompanying press release decried a “pattern of attacks of vandalism at Mike Bloomberg 2020 offices across the United States.” Based on the appearance of the word oligarch in some of the graffiti, the Bloomberg campaign pointed to the Bernie Sanders’ campaign’s criticism of the self-funded billionaire candidate on those terms—calling it “Trump-like rhetoric”—and condemned Sanders for failing to “denounce these illegal acts.”

“Fortunately, no one has been injured,” the statement quoted Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey as saying. “But this needs to end before someone gets hurt.”

A series of photos in the tweet thread illustrated the range of damage Sheekey was talking about. In Salt Lake City, windows were broken. In Knoxville, Tennessee, “Racist Oligarch” had been spray-painted across the doors. In Flint, Michigan, someone appeared to have stuck a sign reading “EAT THE RICH” in a front window.

And in Youngstown, Ohio, it appeared that someone had painted “oligarch” and “stop and frisk” on two sheets of plywood and placed them gently against the front of the office building.

The press release described this as “Our Youngstown, Ohio, office was vandalized and defaced with the word ‘oligarch.’ ” The screenshot from local news that the campaign tweeted out had a chyron reading “BLOOMBERG HEADQUARTERS VANDALIZED.”

The Youngstown Police Department says it’s no such thing. Detective Nick Bailey, who is working the case, said the incident is not currently being investigated as vandalism. “It doesn’t meet the elements of that crime,” Bailey said.

The original incident report did list vandalism under the offense codes section, but Bailey said he believes the responding officer may have been referring to the general notion of vandalism, versus the crime as it is listed in the state’s statutes.

The responding officer wrote that a worker “advised someone covered the front of the building with yellow streamer paper to resemble police tape, and spray painted two wooden boards that were located outside the front of the building.”

Bailey said the boards appeared to have been brought to the building and left there, rather than having been the property of the Bloomberg campaign.

Vandalism occurs, based on Ohio Revised Code 2909.05, when “serious physical harm” is inflicted upon “an occupied structure or any of its contents.” Serious physical harm requires more than $1,000 of damage and losses. The property manager said neither the building nor anything already on the grounds was destroyed or damaged, according to Bailey.

“I guess it would be like an aggravated littering if I could put a term on it,” said Bailey.

The Bloomberg campaign, at the time of publication, has not responded to a request for comment.