Vandalism of conservative groups’ panels on Washington Avenue Bridge continues

UMN student groups Turning Point USA, College Republicans and conservative newspaper Minnesota Republic were targeted again.

UMN student groups Turning Point USA, College Republicans and the Minnesota Republic's panels on the Washington Avenue Bridge on Saturday morning. Vandals spray-painted their murals and those of other groups, including the Bipartisan Issues Group.

Mike Hendrickson

UMN student groups Turning Point USA, College Republicans and the Minnesota Republic’s panels on the Washington Avenue Bridge on Saturday morning. Vandals spray-painted their murals and those of other groups, including the Bipartisan Issues Group.

Allison Cramer

Since Friday afternoon, additional vandalism has occurred on the Washington Avenue Bridge, with more political student groups targeted.

The original murals for both College Republicans and Turning Point USA were painted over in white, and words like “Can’t paint over hate” and “Racists not welcome” were added.

Other groups targeted include the Minnesota Republic, a conservative student publication, and the Minnesota Bipartisan Issues Group. An anarchist “A” symbol was spray painted in gold on the College Republicans’ panel.

Duct-taped cardboard was added to cover some of the vandalism on Turning Point USA’s panel. On the Minnesota Republic’s panel, there was a piece of cardboard on the ground, found below spray-painted obscenities.

Vandals also spray-painted, “You can’t paint over hate,” and, “Hate will loose,” on the glass above the murals.

This is the second year in a row vandals have targeted conservative student groups after the annual Paint the Bridge event on the Washington Avenue Bridge where student groups advertise their clubs.

Miguel Anselmo, vice president of Turning Point USA, said there are always people out there who don’t want to hear views different from their own, and this is an issue of extremism, not of Democrats versus Republicans.

“I think this is a good opportunity for Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, to come together and really try to fight against this extremism that’s trying to take over,” Anselmo said. “We can’t let our beliefs falter.”

Symantha Clough, president of Minnesota Bipartisan Issues Group, said she doesn’t know why they were targeted, but they weren’t hit as hard as other groups. Only the anarchist “A” symbol was spray-painted in gold onto her group’s panel.

“We try to create a dialogue, we’re giving people a chance to speak and say their opinion. They could be upset about that,” Clough said.

Clough said her group plans to talk about the vandalism in its Thursday meeting.

“We’ve debated a lot if there is a point where free speech turns into hate speech,” Clough said. “But I think vandalizing something is not necessarily the best way of getting your opinion out there.”

Both Clough and Anselmo said several nonpartisan groups’ panels were also vandalized.

Representatives from Student Unions and Activities and the University of Minnesota Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Friday, the UMPD said earlier reports of vandalism were currently under investigation.