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Cyclist sets fire to Trump signs at Raleigh home - $11k+ reward offered
"To me, it is an overt effort to suppress people's right to free speech"
Update: the arsonist has been identified
Video captured this week shows an anti-Trump arsonist-on-two-wheels with a lighter setting a "Trump Won" sign on fire at a Raleigh residence. After the cyclist to returned three days later to once again send his political speech up in smoke, the sign's owner, John Kane, published the video along with a cash offer for information leading to the identification of the arsonist.
As the video shows, the arsonist first tried to damage the sign one week ago at 7:14 am on Saturday, August 12th by stopping to kick it repeatedly before riding away on his bicycle. When that attempted vandalism was unsuccessful, the arsonist returned three days later on the 15th at 4:19 am and set the flag on fire. After Kane replaced the flag, the same cyclist to return at nearly the same time on the 18th to set the exact same fire a second time.
This wasn't the first time Kane's sign had been targeted; Kane told This Week in the Triangle that someone had vandalized his sign and mailbox with spray paint in these prior incident, one of which Kane had shared a video of in March. Kane is not sure whether this is the same individual responsible for setting his signs ablaze: "I don't have good enough video footage of the people who sprayed painted to be able to verify if it was this fellow or other folks. I'm pretty confident that whoever spray painted it was the same person, because he did it with the same spray paint colors."
Kane also told us that he had already filed police reports for the arson, as well as for at least one of the times his property was vandalized with spray paint. Kane has also expressed his intent to bring a civil lawsuit against the arsonist (once identified), already retaining the services of James R. Lawrence III of Envisage Law.
Kane expressed his belief this type of vandalism was suppressing the political speech of like-minded citizens in his neighborhood:
"To me it is an overt effort to just suppress people's right to free speech and political speech, which is one of the most important aspects or types of speech...I think it's very intentional"
However, Kane's experience with expressing his political speech on his property has not been all negative:
"I've had more than one neighbor, folks that I did not even know, that just live in our neighborhood, bring me or just throw [a sign] on the doorstep; they bought a sign that's identical to mine, because they saw it be vandalized and wanted it replaced."
"I had a sign up before the 2020 election and I had multiple handwritten notes from people saying how much they appreciated the sign, that they would like to have one up but just couldn't for whatever the reason was."
Although Kane is somewhat of a public figure, he told us he was not aware of his address being doxxed, or his home being specifically targeted for any reason other than the presence of the sign. Kane ran for NC GOP chair at this year's convention in Greensboro, losing to incumbent Michael Whatley. The election was extremely contentious, with Kane and many delegates citing numerous irregularities and concerns with the electronic voting procedures used at the convention. Three delegates have since filed a lawsuit against the NC GOP in Wake Superior Court, asking the court to declare that the party violated it's own rules, and order a new election (Lawrence is also representing the plaintiffs in this lawsuit).
Since Kane shared the video on Friday it has been seen millions of times. In addition to Kane's initial promise of $1000 for the identification of the arsonist, several users of the X app (formerly known as Twitter) have pledged their own money, for a current reward total of over $11,000:
Tim Pool: $5,000
Benny Johnson: $5,000
iVoteAmerica: $500 (contingent on the conviction and sentencing of the arsonist)
The video Kane shared of the arsonist contains several identifying features, including his face, his bicycle, and unique tattoos on both his inner forearms. The bicycle used has been suggested to be a Salsa Warbird, which is manufactured at an MSRP of $7,699.
As an addendum, Kane also referenced a "stack of probably 15 letters" from the City of Raleigh, attempting to get him to remove the sign. This isn't the first time I've heard an allegation of the city taking action against right-wing political speech, but I have more research to do before I'm ready to publish anything along that front. Stay tuned!