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Vandals Torch Biden Sign, Pride Flag at Wisconsin Home

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday August 21, 2020

Vandals Torch Biden Sign, Pride Flag at Wisconsin Home
  (Source:Robert Thelen / Facebook)

A family in Waukesha Country, Wisconsin, say they felt "targeted" by vandals who came onto their property and torched a yard sign supportive of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as a Pride flag.

The arsonist also burned an American flag, noted local newspaper the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The incident took place on the night of Aug. 16 when Robert Thelen's niece saw flames in the family's yard. When she investigates, she saw that the Biden sign was in flames, as were the two flags flanking the sign - a Pride flag and the American flag.

The niece also spotted a car parked nearby with its lights off, the news article said. The car abruptly sped off.

The Waukesha County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the burning of the family's property was arson, the article said.

Local residents offered support, as did Republican State Rep. Scott Allen. The Veterans of Foreign Wars provided a replacement American flag to the Thelen, and the country's Democratic party offered the family a new Biden yard sign and Pride flag.

Update on the arson set by these thugs that destroyed our property if we call the sheriff the sheriff came out so this...Posted by Robert Thelen on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Robert Thelen told the media he's gotten a mixture of messages on social media, with supporters reaching out to him on Facebook. Trump supporters weighed in, too, though with a different message: "I'm getting harassing messages," Thelen said of the input from Trump supporters, "saying that I'm making this all up just to make them look bad."

Robert's father, Michael Thelen, told local news station Fox6Now that the family would not be cowed.

"We have no intention of taking them down, we have no intention of being intimidated, we have a right to be who were are," Michael Thelen told the news channel.

Robert Thelen opined that the act of arson was a "hate crime."

Another Waukesha Country man, Anthony DeFrancisco, told Fox6Now that his political signs were stolen - though, in his case, the signs were supportive of Donald Trump's re-election bid.

Those signs were not burned; they simply disappeared from his front yard.

DeFrancisco said he has put replacement signs high up on telephone poles.

"Well let's see them try to get this one," he said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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