MONROE — Monroe police are continuing their investigation into what appeared to be an act of political vandalism in the form of graffiti sprayed on the side of a restaurant in which a candidate for Congress, Republican Charity Barry, was scheduled to appear for a fundraiser Wednesday night.
The vandals spray-painted messages — at least one with a homophobic slur — on two buildings, Vince’s Pizza, where the event was supposed to be held and an adjacent store, Dollar General.
“I strongly condemn the intimidation and vandalism that took place in Monroe, WI last night,” said a statement from the Barry Campaign, issued hours after the offensive graffiti was discovered. “My team and I were planning an event at Vince’s Pizzeria in Monroe tonight. Now because of the cowardly acts of a few radical Democrats, the owners and workers of this small business must bear the cost and consequences of this selfish and craven attempt to bully a political rival.”
Barry is running against incumbent Democrat Mark Pocan for the 2nd Congressional seat. In response to the incident, her campaign moved its event to an undisclosed location, according to the campaign. It is unclear whether it was indeed held or in what alternate location.
Dollar General Manager Bonnie Rugg said she arrived at work Wednesday morning to be greeted by the spray-painted messages on the side of her building, 639 4th Ave.
“I was shocked,” she said Thursday, adding that the store is planning to have the graffiti removed. “Hopefully they find out who did it.”
Vandalism messages on Vince’s Pizza:
● “Be Gay Do Crime”
● “F- - - This S- - -”
● “EAT S- - - Charity”
● “F- - - Charity Barry”
Vandalism messages on Dollar General:
● F- - - The RestAuRant Next Door!
Editor's note: This story has been updated from the article published in the Saturday, June 18, 2022 edition of the Monroe Times.
She said police are reviewing video tape from area businesses to generate leads but unfortunately the Dollar General Cameras didn’t catch anything, at least at first blush.
Toward that end, police Chief Fred Kelly said police are investigating and reviewing video, adding that the incident is obviously something beyond the usual vandalism or gang graffiti they might encounter and likely happened overnight Tuesday.
“How this all fits together, we still don’t know,” said Kelly. “This seems to be some kind of message.”
The Barry campaign remained defiant in the face of the ordeal, saying “this act of weakness, this act of desperation will not stop my campaign or stay my message.”
The event that was scheduled was a fundraiser for Barry hosted by the Buholzer family, according to her campaign web site, and it also featured speaker Republican Janel Brandtgen of the 22nd Assembly District.
For its part, Vince’s Pizza told customers on social media that its role in the case was merely to grant the group a reservation for its event.
“Vince’s does not affiliate with a political party as we believe politics should be kept out of business,” the restaurant posted. “We welcome all to our restaurant and are thankful for those who choose to dine with us.”
Pocan’s office condemned the vandalism in Monroe and another incident recently in Madison via Twitter: “No ‘progressive’ does our cause any good with actions like this or the similar attempted Molotov cocktail at an anti-gay organization’s office in Madison. Whoever did this should be punished under the law.”
Green County Democrats issued a statement in the aftermath.
"The Democratic Party of Green County joins the Green County Republican Party in condemning vandalism that damaged a business in Monroe recently. We don’t know the motives or intentions of the vandals in this case, but it is never OK to attack individuals or damage property,” said Sandy Rindy, chair of the Democratic Party of Green County. “We hope our local law enforcement will take swift action to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
The Green County Republican Party also issued a strong opinion on the vandalism incident in Monroe.
“We hold dear the founding principles of this great country, which include the freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble, but these acts of vandalism and intimidation cannot be tolerated towards our hard-working, job-supporting family businesses, nor candidates running for public offices,” said John Fandrich, the county’s GOP party chair, in a statement issued Thursday.