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Political vandalism increases across Kansas City as primary nears

Jackson County Legislative candidate Justice Horn discusses emotional fallout
Justice Horn Candidate
Posted at 5:47 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 18:47:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the primary elections in Kansas and Missouri draw closer and political campaigning ramps up, so has vandalism of yard signs across the Kansas City area.

More than a half-dozen signs, mostly those in support of changing the Kansas Constitution to pave the way for an abortion ban in the state, were vandalized last week in Tonganoxie.

Meanwhile, a campaign sign for an LQBTQ+ candidate for Jackson County Legislature was spray-painted with a homophobic slur and stolen as well.

One of Justice Horn’s banners in Midtown Kansas City, Missouri, was defaced Sunday.

He became a prominent voice locally in the Black and LQBTQ+ communities during the protests after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020.

Horn said “he’s really emotional right now” during a briefing Tuesday morning near the site of the vandalism in the 4600 block of Campbell Street.

“This has been a jarring, triggering and horrible experience,” Horn said. “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve been the victim of a hate crime and probably won’t be the last.”

Horn said during an emotional press conference Tuesday morning while “it was shocking, it wasn’t a surprise” because he’s targeted with hate speech online as a Black man and member of the LGBTQ+ community “with startling regularity.”

“You can go knock doors for my opponent or volunteer for them or go run for office against me, but hitting below the belt like that is unfair and it’s unjustified,” Horn said.

He said he felt appreciation for the love and support from around Kansas City and the wider world and said “this is exactly why I pushed for policy change to push LGBTQ people,” a push he hopes to continue from within the legislature.

Horn used the moment to introduce and advocate for his LGBTQ Protection Policy Plan. It calls for health care protections for county workers, processing detainees at the Jackson County Detention Center by gender identity, and a county-wide ban on conversion therapy.

According to Horn’s campaign, he would be the only openly gay elected county official in Missouri and the first openly gay elected official in the county, if he wins a seat.

Horn is running against Geoff Gerling and Manny Abarca for the in-district seat in the 1st District. The election is Aug. 2.

Tonganoxie Police Chief Greg Lawson said the signs were vandalized Thursday and Friday, including some that were defaced with a swastika and the word “fascist.”

In some cases, after residents replaced the vandalized signs, the replacements were stolen.

Lawson said the department has received several leads and are “hopeful” about the course of the investigation.

After the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that a women’s right to abortion is protected by the state constitution, the Kansas legislature put forth a ballot question that would amend the constitution to specifically say no such right exists.

That would then allow the state legislature to impose restrictions, if it saw fit, now that the Supreme Court of the United States bucked a half-century precedent with its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson last month.

Kansans will decide the issue Aug. 2 in a closely watched contest.

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