A Chicago couple whose house was repeatedly vandalized by a Trump supporter is fighting back with love.
Last weekend, Erica Hungerford and Peter Charnley rallied their community to create a massive LGBTQ Pride display on their garage.
The couple has refused to be intimidated by a man who has destroyed their Pride flags and left threatening MAGA messages at their home in the city’s Jefferson Park neighborhood, where they have only lived since February.
On Sunday, the couple was joined by about a dozen members of their community to paint a rainbow mural on their garage door, covering up the perpetrator’s vandalism and sending him a message that they will not let his hatred win.
According to Hungerford, she was “amazed at the number of people who wanted to help.”
Photos of the project show a huge “Love Wins” message on the garage door, as well as rainbow-painted panels on the structure’s side.
Along with their friends and neighbors, members of the Chicago Police Department arrived to assist. “Hate has no place in Chicago,” the department’s Facebook page declared after posting photos of the officers painting.
Since May, the couple has been subjected to five separate anti-LGBTQ incidents, all of which they believe were committed by the same man.
He cut up their Progress Pride flag that was on display in the first incident. Because the perpetrator left their Michigan flag but only destroyed the Pride flag, the couple knew it was an anti-LGBTQ act.
Following that, they installed a Ring doorbell camera, which captured the perpetrator returning to destroy the new Pride flag they had erected.
Over the next few months, they discovered a banana with the word “Republic” written on the peel, a “Let’s Go Brandon” sticker on their garage, and messages reading “Bidens Clintons for jail,” “Obama for prison,” “Impeach Biden,” and “Hack Harris.”
“I heart MAGA” was also spray painted on their garage, as was their Pride flag, despite the fact that they had hung it on a higher pole to keep it out of reach.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, the man even waved to them on their security camera before cutting up their Pride flag. The masked man in a zip-up waving in photos obtained by Block Club Chicago.
Outgoing Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) tweeted in support of the couple, saying she was “outraged that this family has endured this hateful and bigoted attack.”
“It’s stressful, it makes me anxious, and it’s infuriating,” Hungerford told the Tribune. “I’m glad we were able to stand firm. I have extra Pride flags at this point, so if he vandalizes one, I go out and put another one up because I’m not going to let him intimidate me.”
Despite the fact that the couple has only been in the neighborhood since February, they claim their neighbors have told them that their situation is not typical of the area.
“This vandalism seems out of character for the neighborhood,” said Megan Dunning, a community resident who brought her two children to help paint the garage on Sunday. “This community stands up for their LGBTQ neighbors.” Everyone should be accepted. We will not tolerate hatred.”
Dawn Valenti, a victim advocate in Chicago, called the house “the proudest house in the city.”
“Everywhere you look, from the tree to the flag to the canopy, to the garage to the side of the garage. Everything says Pride. This hopefully shows this person, especially the mural, that love wins. That’s what it’s about. It’s about love and just loving each other.”