Offices of Democrat backers hit with tomatoes

Vancouver Education Association targeted three times

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

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Threats of showering county Democrat supporters with tomatoes may have borne fruit.

An employee of the Vancouver Education Association on Monday morning called police to report someone had thrown tomatoes at the group's office near the intersection of West Fourth Plain Boulevard and Broadway.

It was the third time the building was hit by tomatoes in the past week, association president Courtney Eyer said.

Nothing was damaged.

"It's a tomato; at least it's not spray paint," Eyer said.

The first time the building was hit, employees thought kids were playing around. When the building was hit again on Saturday, they decided it was vandalism, Eyer said.

Police told the association that a man on a bicycle appears to have been throwing tomatoes at buildings where campaign signs for President Barack Obama have been posted, Eyer said. The VEA building has signs supporting Obama and Washington state gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, also a Democrat.

"I have no problem with free speech," Eyer said. "I'd rather they come up and talk to me."

Democrats aren't the only ones dealing with vandalism.

Last week, someone threw rocks through a glass door and windows at the Clark County Republican headquarters in Hazel Dell, Clark County GOP Chairwoman Stephanie McClintock said. She guessed the damage would cost thousands of dollars to repair.

The "drive-by tomato attack" wasn't the first time county Democrat supporters were threatened with the prospect of flying fruit.

Earlier this month, someone distributed a letter in the Minnehaha area saying that U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and President Obama have been "like a three man wrecking crew when it comes to energy policy." The writer said a few people threw tomatoes on the roof of a neighborhood home that had an Obama sign in the yard, and invited others to join.

A similar letter was distributed in the Hough neighborhood in March. The writer of that letter invited people to meet the Clark County Democrats before a meeting "with the 'welcome wagon' filled with tomatoes."