WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A war of words in West St. Paul between the mayor and certain members of the common council may have resulted in a streak of vandalism.
West St. Paul police are investigating cases of flat tires and screws found near cars.
West St. Paul Mayor Jenny Halverson thought it was just a simple flat tire until she realized she wasn’t the only one with car trouble.
“Pretty soon we started putting it all together that there were five, six, seven of us that not just had flat tires, but screws in our tires,” said Mayor Halverson.
Those incidents have all happened in the last two weeks and were reported to police.
“Unfortunately we had a number of victims that have found screws in their tires either in the tires causing them to be flat, or propped up behind them and they suspect it might be related to their opinions that they are expressing at our council meetings,” said West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver.
It all started at a heated common council meeting on April 23. The council rejected one of the mayor’s Planning Commission appointees, Samantha Green. Critics of the vote alleged sexism and two days later, someone left a package of feminine products at the mayor’s house. At Green’s house, someone left a box of tissues. In response, West St. Paul residents brought feminine products to the council meeting as part of a donation drive. Now, screws and flat tires appear to be targeting those who have since spoken out at the city council meetings.
“I think it’s pretty clearly retaliation," said Mayor Halverson. "Whether or not there is enough evidence to file criminal claims is another story, but it’s pretty clearly retaliation.”
Katie Dohman, a supporter of Mayor Halverson, who spoke at a meeting last month, also got a flat tire.
“And the light bulb went off, it was like ‘the ding’ moment,” said Dohman. “And I said, ‘Wait a second’ and then all the dots started to get connected that Kelly and John, and another neighbor and they were all from screws.”
The police department posted a crime alert looking for more victims and the perpetrators. As for the mayor, she has a message.
“It doesn’t intimidate us,” said Halverson. “It doesn’t make us want to back down. We’re going to keep fighting.”