Vandals target Portsmouth Democrats’ event

Committee still going on with its fund-raiser

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PORTSMOUTH — Just hours before the Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee’s annual fund-raiser at the CFP Arts, Wellness, and Community Center on Sunday, vandals painted hostile messages on the fence just outside the hall.

The graffiti, apparently spray-painted sometime overnight, was discovered Sunday morning and reported to the Portsmouth Police Department.

The grammatically challenged message includes: “Not welome (sic) demon rats,” quotes from a passage in the Old Testament, and mentions abortion and “LBQT Sodam + Gomrah” (sic). It concludes with, “The Lord has spoken.” (Scroll through the photos above for the complete message.)

“This is not just some harmless prank. Defacing private property is a crime,” Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee Chair Len Katzman said in a prepared statement. “These messages threatening Democrats are a crime. The Portsmouth Democratic Town Committee condemns all violence and threatened violence against people and property.

"We call on all Portsmouth citizens to condemn this vandalism, and condemn these threats to the safety of our neighbors.”

The Portsmouth Democrats made no changes to their event, which began at 1 p.m. at 933 Anthony Road in the Common Fence Point neighborhood.

Katzman, a member of the Town Council, said members had sign-up sheets for attendees to volunteer in helping the community center clean its fence.

Another council member, Republican Keith Hamilton, also weighed in on the graffiti this week.

“The disgusting display of vandalism that appeared Saturday night/Sunday morning is never the answer for people you may disagree with,” Hamilton stated in an e-mail. “You may differ on policy or the direction of the country or even signs you see, but vandalizing property is never the answer. We live in a beautiful community and these types of actions should and will never be accepted.”

CFPIA president comments

Conley Zani, president of the Common Fence Point Improvement Association (CFPIA), said it was clear the vandalism was directly connected to the Democrats’ fund-raiser.

“The Portsmouth Democratic Committee rents the hall every year for a private event to fund-raise for their candidates and causes. The CFPIA does not endorse any political party and our hall is available for anyone to rent — GOP included,” she said.

Zani said she had mixed emotions about the graffiti: “Outrage for the clear violation to our property, sadness for the state of politics and the deeply embedded cruelty that has penetrated our neighborhood, pity for the ignorant and cowardly individual(s) who did this.”

She said she was grateful, however, “for the people in our community who will come together — across political divides — to fix this. We have actually been given an opportunity to be stronger together — a reminder of what I absolutely love about this neighborhood.”

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.