WATERLOO — Republicans plan a “Stop the Madness” rally today outside the home of Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz and are encouraging attendees to wear Halloween costumes.
Schwartz, a Democrat, is hosting a fundraiser for his re-election campaign featuring U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-1st District, at 6 p.m.
Schwartz, who is gay, says the idea of costumed protesters outside his private residence is worrisome in light of past vandalism to his house that included homophobic slurs painted on his home.
“It’s particularly alarming that the Republicans would put out a call for a protest at our house given the history of what happened to us in 2016 when our home became the site of a hate crime and anti-gay death threats, just weeks before my election,” Schwartz said. “We feel it is highly deplorable, reprehensible and irresponsible of them to put out a mass call listing an individual’s private home address and calling on people to show up in masks and protest.”
The Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Iowa announced the event on Facebook, urging local volunteers and activists “to call on Abby Finkenauer and Democrats to drop the impeachment inquiry against President Trump and get back to work for Iowa.”
The post ends with the sentence: “This is a Halloween themed event so feel free to dress accordingly! Stop the Witch Hunt!”
Neither the Republican Party of Iowa nor the Republican National Committee responded to requests for comment. The RNC initially indicated it would release a statement to The Courier, but had not contacted The Courier by press time.
LeaAnn Saul, Black Hawk County Republican chairwoman, said the the anti-impeachment event will target Finkenauer, not Schwartz, and is a chance for Republicans to show support for President Donald Trump.
“They plan to be respectful and to stay on the sidewalk,” Saul said.
The GOP rally is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
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Schwartz called on the Republican Party of Iowa to cancel the rally and to issue an apology “for putting a large bulls-eye on ourselves and our home again,” he said. “They need to just hold their demonstrations in public locations and not at the private home of elected officials.”
Schwartz has coordinated many progressive political demonstrations in Waterloo and Black Hawk County.
“I organize them in a manner that ensures everyone’s safety,” Schwartz said.
There will be a security presence, and Schwartz has requested anyone attending the fundraiser not wear a mask or costume.
“The police have said they will be stepping up patrols in the area and will stand by ready to arrest anybody that trespasses on our private property,” Schwartz said.
In January 2018, union and Democratic activists picketed the Shell Rock home of former Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix to protest what they called his anti-family and anti-worker agenda after he faced allegations of infidelity.
Schwartz said he opposed that protest “because of what we had gone through in our own home,” he said. “It’s a tactic we cannot support. We don’t care what side of the aisle it’s coming from.”
In October 2016, Schwartz’s house was vandalized in the midst of his campaign for county supervisor.
Scrawled across his front door in black paint were the words “Lev 20:13,” a likely reference to Leviticus 20:13, a Bible verse that states: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.”
The slur “fag” was painted on a blue Schwartz campaign sign, and “Trmp” was painted on a Clinton-Kaine sign. Other candidate signs in his yard had black lines sprayed across them.