Bloomberg Campaign Blames Sanders Supporters Over Slurs in Vandalism

Bloomberg Campaign Blames Sanders Supporters Over Slurs in Vandalism


A field office for Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign in Knoxville, Tenn., was vandalized overnight, the latest in a series of vandalism incidents that prompted top campaign officials to blame Senator Bernie Sanders for the attacks.

Campaign volunteers arrived at the office on Friday morning to find profanity spray-painted across the glass front doors. Handmade posters, reading “Authoritarian,” “Classist” and “Oligarch,” were plastered on the windows. Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, is a multibillionaire who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars of own money on his campaign so far.

The posters featured what appeared to be clips of news articles highlighting reports of derogatory statements Mr. Bloomberg made about women, Latinos, African-Americans and transgender people. A Hitler mustache was drawn on Mr. Bloomberg’s face in two photos. If elected, Mr. Bloomberg would be the first Jewish-American president.

Similar types of vandalism were reported last week at field offices in Ann Arbor, Mich., Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio.

Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Kevin Sheekey, said in a statement on Friday: “We don’t know who is responsible for this vandalism, but we do know it echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters.”

“We call on Bernie Sanders to immediately condemn these attacks and for his campaign to end the Trump-like rhetoric that is clearly encouraging his supporters to engage in behavior that has no place in our politics,” Mr. Sheekey added.

There were no witnesses to the attack, and Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign did not provide evidence of Mr. Sanders’s supporters being involved beyond pointing to linguistic similarities with the type of language used by his backers online.

The Knoxville police department is assigning an officer to investigate the incident. There are no suspects, according to the police report, and there is no video footage since the office did not have security cameras.

The Sanders campaign declined to comment on both the incident and the Bloomberg campaign’s accusations.

Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Sanders have been sparring for days about the former mayor’s wealth and campaign spending and the Vermont senator’s belief in democratic socialism. Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign has focused on calling out what it sees as the vitriolic rhetoric of some Sanders supporters. Earlier this week, Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign released a video on Twitter featuring aggressive and threatening tweets and texts that they attributed to supporters of Mr. Sanders. It concluded with a clip of Mr. Sanders calling for “civil discourse,” followed by the question “Really?”

During Wednesday’s Democratic primary debate, Mr. Sanders was pressed by several rivals to address questions about why his candidacy appears to inspire uniquely vitriolic behavior among some of his supporters on the internet. He insisted that nearly all of his online fans were decent people, but said he would “disown those people” who behave in deplorable ways.

He also suggested that some of the online bullying could be attributable to foreign interference.

“All of us remember 2016, we remember efforts by Russians and others to try to interfere in our election and divide us,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s happening, but it would not shock me.”



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