A young woman’s car was vandalized in Portland this week, apparently because it displayed a political bumper sticker criticizing President-elect Donald Trump.

Megan Dyke, 25, said that when she went to brush off the snow from her 2006 Ford Fusion shortly after noon Monday outside her Libbytown home, she discovered that someone had peeled and discarded the “#NeverTrump fight hate” bumper sticker from the rear bumper, scratched one side of her car’s paint, slashed every seat inside and carved “TRUMP” into her dashboard.

Dyke reported the incident to the police, but said they are not optimistic they will find the vandal. There are no security cameras in the area, Dyke said.

The car was left unlocked, said Portland police Lt. Robert Martin.

“I like to think I live in a community where we’re all on the same team and we have each other’s backs on these things, but it is discouraging when this happens because of a difference of opinion,” Dyke said in a telephone interview.

Portland police said it was the first report of election-related vandalism they have received. Other police departments around Portland also said they had not received reports of vandalism or harassment linked to the election, though some members of Lewiston’s Somali community say they are increasingly fearful following multiple incidents in their area.

In one case, a Somali woman reported she was nearly run down by an angry driver who shouted at her for being Somali. Another woman told the Maine Immigration and Refugee Services that she was confronted by a woman who pulled on her hijab and told her to go back to her country.

Around the nation, hate crimes and election-related incidents of vandalism and aggression have spiked, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is keeping track of incidents of harassment since the election.

Dyke posted about the vandalism on Facebook, and included a photo of the damage to her car, telling people to “peel your bumper stickers off, folks! we’ve got a far-right wingnut lurking around portland deciding that freedom of speech is worth vandalism and property destruction. this election has normalized this hatred so i’m afraid of what happens in january…”

In response, many people have reached out in support on social media, offering their own anecdotes of political backlash, she said.

But Dyke has also received more online vitriol from Trump supporters after speaking out about what happened to her, both on Facebook and in online comments in the Press Herald story about the vandalism.

The critics have accused her of damaging the car herself to collect insurance money, and have said that Hillary Clinton’s supporters were paid to carry it out. A few have sent her messages saying she should expect to be jailed for fraud, and that she will get what’s coming to her.

“It’s a sensitive subject and it just shows how tense and divided everyone is on the whole,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “I kind of expected I would get this, but the overwhelming amount of people on the comment thread are saying all the worst things I could imagine people would say about this.”

Dyke said she owes more on the vehicle loan than the car is currently worth, and has accepted that it may be a total loss, but is still waiting to hear from her insurance company.

The vandalism has shaken her. Dyke said she was looking forward to welcoming her extended family for the Thanksgiving holiday this week. Now she’s feeling unsettled, she said.

“It really doesn’t feel good that I’m bringing my loved ones into a home where someone near me is targeting me within my area,” she said.

The incident likely occurred Sunday evening. Dyke was at work when a neighbor called her to say she had arrived home and saw a strange man standing behind Dyke’s building. Dyke called her boyfriend, who was home at the time, but no one could be located in the area, she said.

The next day when she went to her car, she found the damage, Dyke said.

Based on the neighbor’s account, Dyke described the man as white, of medium build, with dark hair. He was wobbling around, and appeared to be intoxicated, she said.

Dyke said she had been outspoken about her political opinions throughout the election cycle, and will continue to be opinionated. But the damage has given her pause about declaring her positions as publicly as she had before.

“I won’t do it again,” she said. “I don’t want to be a target.”


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