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NC amendment sign shooter sparks controversy

Posted May 1, 2012 8:48 p.m. EDT

Progressive blogs have been having a field day with a YouTube video of an NC man shooting an anti-amendment campaign sign.

In the video, available here, a man who identifies himself as Alex Wiles shoots the sign, which he says was put up “near his house.” In the video, the sign appears to be in his backyard.

"That's how we deal with it 'round here," Wiles says in the video, cocking his shotgun. “That’s all, folks.”

Wiles doesn’t say where he lives, but other videos on his channel show he lives in Cabarrus County, near but outside the city limits of Kannapolis. Property records confirm his location.

Once the video went viral, it was removed from YouTube. A Facebook page which appears to belong to him touts his admiration of Glenn Beck and Stonewall Jackson, but has now been blocked from public view.

We attempted to contact Mr. Wiles via phone and Facebook to get more information. He didn’t respond to either message this morning. By this evening, the answering machine at his residence had been turned off.

Is it illegal?

A source at the State Board of Elections says the “implicit threat” is hard to miss, and that it could be actionable by the federal DOJ as voter intimidation, depending on Mr. Wiles’ motives.

On a more basic level, Cabarrus County’s Municipal Code says it’s a Class 3 (very minor) misdemeanor to discharge a firearm in unincorporated areas of the county that are residential districts.

It’s also a Class 3 misdemeanor to vandalize a campaign sign – unless the sign was put on your property or on a state right-of-way that fronts your property, without your permission.

Both sides react

Jen Jones with the Coalition to Protect All NC Families, the group that by law owns the sign, said the video is evidence of the divisive nature of the Amendment fight.

“It’s hard to see our signs shot up. It’s hard to see anyone’s signs defaced,” Jones said. “We do not condone anyone defacing anyone’s yard signs on either side of the issue. We’ve seen it on both sides.

“I’m from North Carolina, so I understand the sentiment,” Jones said. “But it’s indicative of the fact that his is a true distraction from what we really should be caring about in North Carolina.”

“People on both sides are very angry and frustrated that this is on the ballot. It shows to me that this is a real distraction from the true issues we face,” said Jones. “We can win it on our own arguments. We’re doing whatever we can defeat it on those terms, not by vandalizing yard signs.”

Tami Fitzgerald wth the pro-amendment group Vote For Marriage NC said she hadn’t seen the video. “If there are people on our side who are doing that, it’s not appropriate, and we don’t condone it at all.”

“The lack of civility that’s been going on – we’ve been the target for most of that, said Fitzgerald. “Our billboards have been spray-painted. There was an attempt to burn down a billboard in Brunswick County. We’ve had thousands of yard signs stolen across the state.”

Asked to back up that number, Fitzgerald said, “We get reports. We’ve put up around 75,000 signs around the state of North Carolina, and they’re getting taken down as fast as we can put them up.”

“We do have a report from Robeson County yesterday of a beating that occurred of a woman over a sign," Fitzgerald added. "There’s a police report.” 

WRAL was unable to verify that story with the Lumberton police or the Robeson Sheriff’s office.

Jones said she’d heard the story, too. “It was actually a report that someone had stumbled onto someone else’s property, and there was an altercation that was unrelated to yard signs or this campaign,” Jones said.

“We’re seeing a lot of news stories about this for one simple reason: it’s hot, people are divided, there are a lot of conversations going on, and that helps us. The more conversations we have about the amendment and the harms of the amendment, the better it is,” added Jones.

“This is about one thing,” Fitzgerald countered. “It’s about protecting marriage between one man and one woman. What is so hard about that?"