Police say criminal charges will be filed against a man who allegedly put pro-Trump bumper stickers on a Gwinnett County Democratic Party official’s car, yelled at her and chased her in his car.
Sharon Wood walked out of the Publix on Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville on Monday afternoon and found someone had put an “I (heart) Trump” sticker on her car, covering other stickers supporting former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Wood, the first vice-chair of the Gwinnett County Democratic Party, has had her car plastered in political bumper stickers for years and had mostly heard positive comments about them. But after she peeled the Trump stickers off her trunk, she heard something different.
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“I heard this person yelling from across the parking lot ‘You (expletive) traitor,’ over and over again …,” Wood said.
The Gwinnett County Solicitor General and the Lawrenceville Police Department are both investigating the incident independently and have identified a suspect based on Wood’s description of the van, which carried a Lawrenceville business name. The suspect will be interviewed by police Monday, and the suspect has hired an attorney, said Lt. Jake Parker, a Lawrenceville Police Department spokesman.
“There will be charges filed,” Parker said Thursday afternoon.
When a reporter called the business on Tuesday for a comment on the incident, a man answered the company’s phone and denied the allegations.
“It’s not accurate. That’s how the left acts. I’m not like them,” the man said before hanging up. He did not respond to a subsequent voicemail left by a reporter.
A picture of what Wood says is her car with the Trump stickers on it has been publicly posted to a Facebook page with the caption, “I added some ‘I Love Trump’ stickers to this (expletive) collection.”
Wood said as she loaded her groceries in the parking lot on Monday, she avoided eye contact with the driver, got in her car and drove away. She soon realized the van was following her.
The van tailed her for miles. Wood said she worried for her safety and instead of driving home, tried to drive to the Lawrenceville Police Department, but couldn’t remember exactly where it was. When she made a sharp left turn into a strip mall parking lot, the tailing driver drove away, honking his horn, Wood said.
Once she was off the road, Wood called the business and asked a man who answered about their work vans.“He asked why, and I said ‘I just had a disturbing incident where one of your drivers harassed me,’” Wood said. “He said ‘Why don’t you complain to Stacey Abrams?’”
Wood realized she could be talking to the man who had just pursued her. When she asked him, he said it was, called her a “(expletive) traitor,’” and hung up, Wood said.
Wood said she was “shaken” from the incident but thought she might just “let it drop.” When she told her friend Bianca Keaton, the Gwinnett County Democratic Party chair, about it, Keaton told her to keep pursuing it.
After Keaton posted on Facebook about the incident, Gwinnett County Solicitor General Brian Whiteside saw it and got in touch with both women. Based on Wood’s description of the man’s actions, Whiteside said it could result in criminal charges. The solicitor’s office prosecutes misdemeanors.
Wood is still concerned the man who followed her could do something else.
“I won’t be intimidated, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about what this guy might do,” Wood said. “He lives really close to me. We shop at the same grocery store, obviously, and I’m there often, so it’s definitely concerning.”
Wood, who is 70, has been politically active since her late teens. She’s dealt with things like counter-protesters at demonstrations, but has never before felt targeted on a personal level. Still, she is undeterred.
“As long as it’s a free country, I’m going to put bumper stickers on my car,” Wood said. “We should be able to stand up for what we believe in.”
AJC reporter Greg Bluestein contributed reporting to this story
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