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Editor's Note: Images associated with this story contain potentially offensive language.
By Lee Hermiston, The Gazette
WATERLOO - A Black Hawk County supervisor candidate said graffiti on his yard signs and front door amounts to a hate crime and death threat.
Chris Schwartz said he woke up this morning to find a slur related to his sexuality spray painted in black paint on his campaign sign. Schwartz, who is gay and lives in his Waterloo home with his boyfriend, is a Democrat running for a Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors seat. Other candidate signs in his yard also were spray painted, including a sign for Hillary Clinton that appears to have 'Trump” painted over it.
But most concerning, Schwartz, said is the graffiti that reads 'Lev 20:13” a reference to Leviticus 20:13 that calls for a man who lies with another man to be put to death.
Schwartz said he takes that as a death threat.
'We do feel afraid,” Schwartz said. 'We are afraid for our safety right now. We don't feel safe right now.”
Schwartz said 'a vast majority” of people are supportive of him, but he recently has been singled out in posts on a Facebook group run by Cedar Valley Patriots for Christ, which called him a 'pro-gay socialist” and accused him of bringing 'debauchery” to Black Hawk County through the Cedar Valley Pridefest.
The group mentioned Schwartz in posts on Oct. 23, 24 and 26. Schwartz said he doesn't think the timing of the posts and vandalism at his home are coincidental.
'They call on Christians to step up and do something,” he said, referencing a line in an Oct. 23 Facebook post that reads, 'Christians in our community better start stepping up and put a stop to this!”
Members of the group did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via Facebook, but in a post Thursday morning, the Cedar Valley Patriots for Christ said they would cover the damages to Schwartz' home.
'We do not hate anyone or condone violence,” the post reads, in part. 'Becoming a Christian is a choice. As Christians we are to spread the gospel and let people decide their eternity. That being said, we believe this vandalism looks like a hoax.”
Schwartz said it's possible this is not the first time he's been targeted. In April, after a day of campaigning, he posted a photo of one of his Chihuahuas on Facebook. Later, a bag of coolant was found in Schwartz's yard. Schwarz said he doesn't know if someone put it there or it blew in, but his other Chihuahua consumed some of the coolant and died as a result.
The Waterloo police have been called and responded to Schwartz's home, he said. Waterloo Polce Capt. Dave Mohlis said they are in the early stages of investigating the crime and will make a determination on whether it fits the criteria of a hate crime.
'On it's face, there were obviously some derogatory things spray painted on the political signs,” Mohlis said.
However, Mohlis said without a witness or surveillance camera, crimes like these are very difficult to solve.
Scott Adkins, chairman of the Republican Party of Black Hawk County, issued a statement Thursday evening condemning the act.
'The recent vandalism that occurred at the home of a Democratic Supervisor candidate has no place in local, state or national politics,” he wrote. 'It is a crime and the Black Hawk County Republicans condemn such actions and sincerely hope that the perpetrators are caught and punished.”
Schwartz said he will continue campaigning and has no plans to leave his home.
'This is our home,” he said. 'This is where we live. We don't have anywhere else to go.”