‘Wilmington for Trump 2020’ billboard ripped apart overnight

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A highly visible Wilmington billboard for President Donald Trump was discovered torn apart early Friday.

The campaign sign reads, “Wilmington for Trump 2020.” The billboard is near Jervay Park and visible from 3rd Street across from the “Black Lives Do Matter” art installation.

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The billboard has been a source of controversy for the city.

Earlier, it was put up without a sponsor as required. That has since been fixed, but now this.

Some are arguing that the damage is vandalism and a violation of free speech.

“The billboard this morning was just an example of vandalism, of violation of the property rights of the billboard owner. A violation of our rights.” New Hanover County GOP Chairman Will Knecht said.

It shouldn’t be that,” says James Gilbert, a resident sick of the sign. “I shouldn’t–if the city didn’t vote on it, it shouldn’t say we’re all for him because we are not all for him.”

The New Hanover County GOP says almost 3000 Trump and 500 Dan Forest yard signs have been stolen in the past few months.

Aaron King, a UNCW Associate Political Science Professor, says the political climate is a perfect storm this year:

“There’s something to the fact that 2020, the stakes are so high and so people feel like…people may be willing to do things that under a less polarized political climate you wouldn’t have.”

We will have more tonight on WWAY News.