HAVERHILL — Richard P. Early III said he isn't backing down when it comes to the large display of Donald Trump campaign signs he set up on his front lawn and also draped across the front of his Kenoza Avenue home.
He said people have been stealing his signs and that this week someone spray painted "never" across the face of his 4-by-8-foot Trump sign. Someone also threw eggs at his house, he said.
"This isn't the first time this has happened," Early said. "The big sign has been vandalized several times, and each time I have it replaced with a new sign."
He said other signs on his lawn have been stolen this year and that at least three people have been charged by police. In addition, he said a teenager is expected to be summonsed to court for taking his signs.
Early said he didn't know what to expect this week after a Haverhill woman on Saturday began removing small Trump signs from his front lawn while he was inside his house at 356 Kenoza Ave., across from Winnekenni Park.
He said that after warning the woman several times, he resorted to calling the police, who arrested the woman and charged her with disorderly conduct.
Early said he wasn't surprised to discover on Tuesday at 10:40 p.m. that someone spray-painted the word "never" across his large Trump sign and also threw several eggs at his house.
"We have full video of a kid spray-painting the sign," Early said. "It shows him driving back and forth before parking on Midlake Street, then walking onto my lawn where he spray-painted the sign. He looks like an 18- or 19-year-old kid. I'm bringing the video to the police.
"Someone threw a couple eggs that bounced off my house and ricocheted onto a van window and landed on my driveway and back walkway," Early said. "So obviously they threw them from Midlake Street around the same time. My video is vague, but I'd say it was the same kid. Like all the others, when you show them the video, they confess to everything.
"I"m taking it in stride to a point, but it is frustrating," Early said. "Sooner or later, the court has to put the hammer down."
Early said his friend Chip Bailey, a local plumber who is a Trump campaign volunteer, obtains new signs from the Trump campaign.
"I'm not stopping," Early said. "I'm having more signs made and I'll put six more out front."
Early said he supports Trump because "I don't want eight more years of Obama policies. We don't need it."
Bailey, owner of C.M. Bailey and Sons Plumbing and Heating company in Bradford, said the person who has been most instrumental in obtaining Trump signs is David Dever of Haverhill.
"We're a couple of volunteers ... a couple of worker bees," Bailey said.
"We have replaced so many signs in so many locations from here to Boston," Bailey said. "The sad part of it is this is America and everyone has a right to vote who they want to and it's sad that people on the left ... are destroying these signs and stealing them. They do it under the premise that free speech doesn't matter. They only want to hear one side."
Bailey said he has helped replace hundreds of Trump signs that were cut in half and stolen, as well as signs that were covered in obscenities and swastikas.
"It's really been over the top and it's too bad," Bailey said.
Dever said the theft and destruction of Trump signs from the Merrimack Valley to Boston is like an epidemic of hatred.
"We've replaced signs in North Andover, Georgetown, Groveland, Byfield, Merrimac, Plaistow, Topsfield, East Boston, Revere and other communities," Dever said. "In Haverhill alone, we've replaced more than 40 signs that were torn down or spray-painted. We had a sign in Bradford Square that was painted. I had signs in front of my home on Main Street that were spray-painted, too. We even put flags on our signs and they didn't care. They just tore them down.
"People have no respect," he said. "They think this is freedom of speech. It's sad."