An African-American candidate for sheriff in Linn County, Kan., said he discovered a week before Election Day that one of his campaign signs had been defaced with white lettering that said “KKK.”
LeRoy McConico, the Democratic candidate for sheriff, said he had a handful of signs across the county touting his candidacy. He said he’d had issues with people messing with his campaign signs, but this was the first time he’d seen something this severe.
The appearance of the letters, which evoke the Ku Klux Klan, surprised the law enforcement veteran. And he said he didn’t have any idea who did it.
“There’s some people that just got some dark hearts,” he said. “They saw an opportunity to do something in the dark.”
The Kansas man is running against Republican Paul Filla, the county’s incumbent sheriff. More than 9,000 people live in the county, according to census data. That same data show that less than 1 percent of the county’s population is African-American. Linn County is in eastern Kansas along the Missouri border.
The sheriff’s office confirmed that a report was taken of the damage to McConico’s campaign sign. The Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Kansas City also confirmed Wednesday that it was aware of the incident but wouldn’t comment further.
Filla could not immediately be reached for comment.
The damage to McConico’s sign comes at a time when racial issues have been a divisive topic of conversation, both on the presidential campaign trail and in some communities.
McConico’s daughter Courtney McConico said that although the county has a small African-American population, she didn’t expect to see damage like that happen in the campaign’s final days.
“I just didn’t think it would happen to us,” she said.
McConico, the chief of police in Parker, Kan., said he’s worked in law enforcement for about 35 years. He said he doesn’t see the national dialogue, or the tone of the current presidential election, trickling down to the area in Kansas he calls home. McConico said he’s lived in Linn County for 12 years.
“The county certainly is not like that,” he said of the lettering that evokes decades of American racism. “This is a very good county, a good place to live in. The people are very, just awesome, awesome people. My family, we have enjoyed living here. We’re not going to let nothing like that defer what we believe and how we feel.”