This story was written by Jennifer Oato, The Western Front
Bumper stickers supporting President-elect Barack Obama became targets for an armed vandal on Nov. 6, said Western Washington Chief of University Police (UP) Randy Stegmeier.As of Monday, 18 vehicles had been reported with slashed tires and/or a W scratched into the paint, Stegmeier said.It just seems so uncharacteristic for this to happen at Western, said Western sophomore Bill Kristian, whose car was among those vandalized.Police believe the vandalism occurred between 4 and 7 p.m., under the cover of a dark and rainy night, Stegmeier said.He said 14 of the vehicles were located in campus parking lots, and the remaining four ranged from the 100 block of Highland Drive to the 2400 block of Bill McDonald Parkway.Kristian said he was driving down Bill McDonald Parkway from the Ridgeway parking lots, when his car began vibrating. He pulled over, got out of his car and discovered that two of his tires were slashed and a large W was scratched into the passenger-side door, Kristian said.UP officers first discovered several damaged vehicles while patrolling a campus parking lot on the evening of Nov. 6 and quickly noticed the bumper sticker connection, Stegmeier said.Most of the victims were contacted right away, but police were unaware of the extent of the vandalism at the time.
Western freshman Andy Christensen said his car was parked in the Fairhaven lot, when he got a call from UP about the damage.Christensen said he had to replace all four of his tires but cant afford to fix the damaged paint on his car right now.Christensen said he thinks the vandalism was cowardly, immature and a bad representation of the Republican Party.I have friends who are conservative, and this is not how they want people to see them, Christensen said.Christensen said he kept the Obama sticker on the back of his car because he thinks it's unlikely he will be targeted twice.Western junior Katie Sharp said she was leaving work at the Wade King Student Recreation Center and discovered both tires on her drivers side to be flat. Sharp notified campus services of her flat tires to avoid a parking ticket, and was contacted later that evening by UP, who notified her of the vandalism etched into her vehicle's paint.Sharp still received a parking ticket the next day, Nov. 7, which campus services eventually waived. Sharp said she was angry about the damage because her father had put expensive tires on her car.I didnt make [Obama] president by myself, she said. People can be very close-minded when things dont go their way.Kristian said he thinks it is hypocritical of the vandal to target Obama supporters.McCain said from the beginning, We need to support the president, no matter who is elected. This person is just being hateful, Kristian said.Although he said he didn't want to, Kristian removed the Obama sticker from his car.The money it will take to fix my car is all I have right now and I cant afford to be targeted again, Kristian said.Kristian said the total damage will cost him approximately $800.UP has increased its patrols in parking lots since discovering the damage, Stegmeier said.Stegmeier said students should try to not let their vehicles sit for long periods of time without anyone checking on them and should not walk to their cars alone after dark.Stegmeier said the main concern in this situation is that the vandal may become violent if caught in the act.We will certainly hold the person accountable [for his or her actions], but wed like for them to come in and identify themselves so we can help them deal with their anger, he said.