A Hamilton woman’s homemade political sign was meant to support the #MeToo movement and spur people to vote. But the accompanying visual spurred criticism — and a visit from law enforcement.
At some point during Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s testimony last week, Marion Stanford grabbed a piece of wooden paneling, some paint and the $5 brushes she had purchased awhile back.
She brought the items back to her living room, where she had been glued to the television watching the drama unfold in the Senate that day. She had heard Christine Blasey Ford tell senators that Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, was the boy who sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, when they were both in high school. And as she listened to Kavanaugh’s forceful denial and defense of himself, Stanford began to paint.
She drew an elephant, the Republican symbol, in red, white and blue — with its trunk climbing up the skirt of a little blond girl in pink. Her eyes are wide open, and so is her mouth. The word “HELP!” is right next to her face. On the opposite side of the paneling, she painted the words, “YOUR VOTE MATTERS” in the same shade of pink.
“The message is if you recognize this, if you understand this pain, if you are part of this movement, your vote matters,” Stanford said, referring to the #MeToo movement.
A few days later, on Tuesday night, a police officer showed up at her house. Stanford said the officer told her there had been complaints about her sign, which some saw as a graphic depiction of child abus”It is pornography, and you can’t display it,” Stanford recalled the police officer saying. She was given a few choices, she said: Take the sign down, refuse and get arrested, or let police confiscate it. She said she chose the last option.
City officials denied threatening arrest.
“It’s a political sign, and a citizen here placed a yard sign that featured a political animal taking an inappropriate position with a young child,” Pete Kampfer, Hamilton’s city manager, told the Dallas Morning News. “A police member visited the owner’s home, and the owner asked the officer to take the sign.”
The Hamilton Police Department declined an comment.
Earlier that Tuesday, the sign caught the attention of Sid Miller, the Texas agriculture commissioner. Miller, who was reportedly on President Trump’s shortlist for U.S. agriculture secretary, posted pictures of the sign on his Facebook page and claimed that the girl depicted was one of Kavanaugh’s young daughters.
Miller’s campaign did not respond to a call and email seeking comment.
Stanford said the girl does not depict Kavanaugh’s daughter, and portraying child abuse wasn’t her intention. She said the yard sign was based on an editorial cartoon that Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes drew last year, when then-Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of making sexual advances to minors.
“I knew what the symbolism was. I know what my motivations were,” she said.
Stanford, a self-described independent who frequently leans liberal, said she found Ford to be credible.
Even so, Miller’s Facebook post drew attention to Stanford and her sign, prompting countless reactions, including those that called for her to be arrested.
Police did show up at her home.
Some say she was told to remove the sign, or it would be confiscated. City officials said police visited Stanford’s home and she asked them to take the sign, the Dallas Morning News reported.