Video: Douglas Black charged in theft of campaign signsWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lucas County Democratic Party released video by two volunteer campaign workers on Aug. 24 showing a man destroy Michelle Wagner’s judicial campaign signs. Since June, 55 signs have been stolen or destroyed, including four in Wagner’s own backyard.
Toledo native Douglas Black has been charged by the Toledo Municipal Court with stealing and destroying signs. The total damage from losing 55 signs has cost the campaign $1,484 of damage. The majority of the signs have disappeared or been destroyed since June in the area of Reynolds Road and Heatherdowns.
To prevent future thefts in her backyard, Wagner had a wooden structure built to hold the signs in her trees.
“If it would have stopped 2-3 weeks ago it probably would have just been dropped and forgotten about but any time we put up a sign it was gone the next day,” said Wagner for Judge Campaign Manager Josh Thurston. “Whoever was doing this was going into people’s yards and destroying their property. Not only that they are hindering free speech.”
Black, 66, has been charged with two separate charges including “petty theft with purpose to deprive knowingly obtain or exert control without consent of owner” as well as “criminal damaging or endangering knowingly cause or create substantial risk of physical harm.”
Thurston said the Wagner campaign had no previous knowledge of the alleged man but says “it’s definitely political and definitely targeted.” He claims that in the video, the man passes a campaign sign for Wagner’s opponent, Mark Davis, before targeting another of their signs.
“What is it about this guy that elicits this kind of response, a hard-working mother of three that works 40-50 hours a week?” Thurston asked.
Thurston also denied the allegations raised by Davis and Lucas County Republican Chairman Jon Stainbrook that Wagner’s campaign had accused them of being involved.
“There have been no public accusations,” Thurston said. “We have people out there that are supportive of Michelle and we can’t control what they say on things like Facebook. I am the only paid campaign worker and Michelle is the candidate and neither of us has publicly said that Mark Davis is doing this, Dave Toska is doing this or Jon Stainbrook is doing this.
“All we are saying is it really looks fishy to see where these are happening, how they are happening and when they are happening.”
Thurston was involved in Marcy Kaptur’s campaign last year for U.S. Congress where opponent Rich Iott was photographed wearing a Nazi uniform in reenactment. A storm of controversy ensued but Thurston said that even that incident didn’t compare to the sign controversy.
“The Rich Iott stuff was amazing, it was a crazy thing to be a part of but this is criminal,” Thurston said. “Rich Iott made a bad judgement by reenacting Nazis but this is beyond that this is criminal. If this was a coordinated thing it is a big deal. I’m not saying it is or not, but it doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Black has been summoned to appear for arraignment on Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Toledo Municipal Court.
“We are going to let the courts do what they do best,” Thurston said. “He will have his day in court and I look forward to that.”