RACINE — Police received a report of roofing nails strewn about the parking lot where the Racine TEA Party held a rally Saturday.
The nails caused damage to two vehicles, puncturing tires, said Sgt. Martin Pavilonis of the Racine Police Department. Pavilonis said as of Monday afternoon they didn’t have any suspects.
Nancy Milholland, an organizer with the Racine TEA Party, said she made the report to police in the early afternoon Saturday after volunteers showed her handfuls of nails they had collected from the parking lot. She and other organizers had been to the location several times before the rally and never noticed any nails, she said.
The day of the rally “these were piles all over the parking lot,” Milholland said. “It was not just a few nails, it was a ton of nails.”
The TEA Party rally started Saturday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m. at the old Sam’s Club at 6200 Regency West Drive. Featured speakers included former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is running for U.S. Senate, along with many other Republican candidates.
Milholland doesn’t know who scattered the nails, but she said earlier Saturday morning a volunteer saw a white van with Obama stickers parked across the street and around 10:30 a.m. a pickup truck drove into the parking lot and sat there a while and then drove out. Both seemed suspicious, she said.
Keith Holst, 53, from Mayville, which is about 10 minutes west of West Bend, was one of the two drivers who ended up with a punctured tire.
He and his wife drove a little over an hour to go to the TEA Party rally and after hearing the report of nails during the rally he checked his tires before leaving. That is when he found a nail puncturing one of his tires. He was able to patch it up before driving home, but he said a flat tire can be a serious matter because they can cause accidents.
“It’s not just a prank,” he said.
He doesn’t know exactly who scattered the nails, but he suspects it was Democrats.
“I’ve been hearing all kinds of things like this going on,” said Holst, who drives a cement mixer. “It’s a close race and there are some very angry people.”
Jane Witt, chairwoman of the Racine County Democratic Party, said if someone did this, “This is definitely not something we condone … We can have political disagreements but that shouldn’t extend to endangering each other’s safety.”
Milholland said the entire incident makes her mad.
“We all (need) to remember we are Americans,” Milholland said. “Hate the policy not the person …We still have to live together after the election.”
Throughout the past several years the TEA Party has held several large rallies locally, but Milholland said this was the first time anything like this happened.
Besides reports of nails scattered about at the TEA Party event, both Republicans and Democrats have reported political signs taken from their yards. Also an Obama sign was allegedly set on fire earlier this month in Caledonia, according to police reports.
Anyone with additional information about the event can call the Racine Police Department’s investigations unit at (262) 635-7756.