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Political Vandalism Draws Concerns, Calls for Calm

October 23, 2008

Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota's faith community is calling for calm in response to surprising reports of property damage and threats against six members of the state congressional delegation. Vandals spray-painted homes and garages of senators and representatives overnight Tuesday, and several of the messages included warnings.

The victims aren't from the same party, which causes police to doubt that the vandalism was a partisan attack. So far, no one has claimed responsibility. Reverend Peg Chemberlin, executive director for the Minnesota Council of Churches, says such behavior belongs neither in politics nor a moral society.

"This kind of vandalism has no place in the democratic proceedings. Nobody's going to win anything, or gain from this kind of action and activity."

Chemberlin points out that the United States has a history of peaceful changes of power, and this kind of behavior is not a part of that process.

"I think people of good will all over the country will denounce these acts of violence. We also want to ask ourselves, 'How well are we doing with implied violence in the whole campaign?'"

She refers to some of the inflammatory language at recent campaign rallies, and commercials that attack and dehumanize opponents, all of which could be heating up the political atmosphere. As much as politics are about differences, she says, they're also about Americans' similarities and common values.

"Let's all reaffirm in these last days of the campaign that we are going to be good citizens, that are tolerant of each other and can celebrate the democratic process."

The six delegates who were victims of the vandalism are Senators Coleman and Klobuchar and Representatives Bachmann, Ellison, Kline, and Ramstad.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN