By Selene Raj
Broward Democrats and Republicans have been campaigning alongside each other for decades. It typically remains friendly at voting locations; however, things have become so tense this week that police were called at the Northwest Regional Library during early voting.
On Wednesday, Coral Springs Democrat, Rona Silberman, said she was handing out literature and yard signs to people who visited the Biden tent, which she’s done for several election years.
However, that afternoon, she ran into a problem.
She said that all candidates have signs around the library and that their signs are the standard sign.
“There was a Biden/Harris sign on the grassy area behind our tent. The Republicans had a two-sided side-by-side sign about three feet high by 10 feet long in the same area,” she said.
Silberman said that a man from the Republican tent came to complain that her standard-sized Biden sign was in the way of their large-sized Trump sign.
“Ours was on the east side of it,” she said, but still, the man wanted the Democrat’s sign moved.
She responded that the Biden sign was not blocking the Trump sign.
“He decided he would take matters into his own hands and move the large Trump in front of our tent,” she said, blocking them completely.
Instead of provoking confrontation, she went to the poll workers to ask them what she should do.
“They told me to call the Coral Springs police, which I did—after all, I didn’t want to get into an altercation with the man who moved their sign,” she said.
However, the police did nothing about it, though about five officers responded to the call, she said.
“When the police showed up, they went over to the Republican tent. I went over and introduced myself as the person that called for assistance. They told me they were waiting for their supervisor, [but] if he came, he never came to speak to me,” she said.
She said only one of the five officers walked over to their tent, and he never introduced himself by name.
“He made it so completely obvious that he was a Republican by acting like there was nothing wrong, and I shouldn’t have bothered them,” Silberman said.
After they left, she said she was mortified.
“I thought the police were there to provide some rational help, and instead, I got officers who were more concerned with the Republicans,” she said.
The Coral Springs Police has denied any allegations of wrongdoing, saying that they were not partial to either party involved.
“It’s a difficult position because we’re called out to the polls, but at the same time, we can’t influence people’s signs and decisions,” said CSPD Officer Chris Swinson.
Along with Deputy Chief McKeone, Swinson’s statement contradicted Silberman’s and said that they, along with the supervisor, contacted her.
They also denied going into anyone’s tent or having any partisan bias.
“It is on body camera that they made contact,” said Swinson. “Supervisor Weissman went to speak with her.”
The calls were logged, but no official written report was filed.
They said that during their time there, someone thanked them for their service, and another asked where to drop off a mail-in ballot, at which point they asked someone behind them for assistance in directing the voter—they said they did not go under either tent.
“We’re not even supposed to be at the polls, but unfortunately, when we get a call, we have to be,” said Swinson. “We don’t want anyone being intimidated by our presence.”
Chief McKeone said the role they play is to ensure that everyone has the right to exercise their fundamental rights and make sure everyone is safe and able to vote.
Swinson added that when they receive a call, they don’t ask for political affiliation—they respond to the call.
Coral Springs Talk has requested the footage of the incident, to independently verify the events that occurred, and if received, the article will be updated.
Clarence Reynolds, a volunteer and Board Member of the Coral Springs/Parkland Democratic Club, felt it unfortunate that it’s come to this, after so many years of coexisting peacefully, without malice.
“It’s just outright wrong—taking it too far,” said Reynolds.
He said that the Republican and Democratic volunteers worked together in 2018 and are cordial for the most part, but this incident highlights the shift in tone.
“That was off-the-cuff, taking it too far, looking for trouble,” he said.
Reynolds suggested that they would not respond further to provocation, however.
“We’re not here to make trouble, we’re here to make American great again—the right way,” he said, jokingly.
Republican volunteers were asked for comments to share their side of the story, but those at their tent on Thursday afternoon did not wish to.
However, one unnamed volunteer did say that the Biden volunteers put their sign in front of the Trump sign, though he did not wish to comment further and didn’t have any photos of any of the aforementioned incidents.
“They started it,” he said.
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- Selene Raj is a writer and a Florida International University graduate. Born in Trinidad and raised in America, she completed her Master’s in Mass Communications in 2020 and has been living in Coral Springs since 2004.
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