Police in Vermont’s largest city are investigating a report that someone lit a display supporting President Donald Trump on fire – and left it on a homeowner’s doorstep.
“It’s crazy,” said Annmarie Klein of Burlington. “To me, that’s violent. That’s bullying. It’s scary.”
Klein said her husband discovered the tatters of his “Trump 2020: Keep America Great!” flag early Sunday.
Klein told necn that while the couple was asleep, someone snatched the flag from the pole in front of their home, lit the banner on fire, and left it on the front porch of the property.
There was no apparent fire damage to the porch.
Burlington Police confirmed to necn affiliate NBC 5 News that they received the report of the burned flag, and are looking into it.
Klein said even in a city often known for liberal politics, disagreements with lawn displays have always been respectful – until this incident.
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“We all get along,” Klein said of her neighbors and friends who have differing political views. “You agree to disagree.”
Klein said the flag-burning is an indication that the political tone in America right now is not healthy. She noted that despite her support of Trump in 2016, she has also supported Democrats, does not consider the president to be perfect, and likes Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, on many issues.
“It does make me sad,” Klein said, looking at the destroyed flag. “I’m going to be 58 years old, and I’ve never seen something like this before. I’ve always lived in this area.”
The Vermont Democratic Party, while certainly no fan of Trump’s, still absolutely condemned the vandalism.
Party spokesman Christopher Di Mezzo said in a written statement to necn, “Difference of thought is what makes us average Americans. But it’s the level of respect with which we treat that difference that makes us Vermonters – that makes us unique.”
The vandalism follows an election cycle that saw Vermont praised for its political civility.
In one legislative district, Republican and Democratic rivals for an open Statehouse seat even got national attention for teaming up in a musical duet at the end of a public forum on the issues.
“Vermont is a beacon of hope,” defeated gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist said in a concession speech on election night. “We showed the rest of the country what good democracy looks like.”
Despite the reputation for civility, reports of racist or transphobic threats made against some candidates have Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, calling for an end to divisiveness and nasty polarization, which he has described as one of the country’s greatest threats.
“I know Vermont can lead the way in restoring our sense of unity,” Scott said of political divisiveness last week, in a Thanksgiving message to Vermonters.
As for Annmarie Klein, she said she is trying to turn the other cheek, hoping whoever torched her family’s Trump flag will start looking for what they have in common with others, instead of focusing so fiercely on what separates them.