A North Reading woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Lawrence District Court to charges that she destroyed a political sign supporting Donald Trump and nearly ran over the sign’s owner as she sped away from his Andover lawn, officials said.
Susan Bryant, 57, is facing four counts of defacing property and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, prosecutors said.
Bryant was released on personal recognizance and was issued a bail warning, according to Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for the Essex County district attorney’s office. She was also ordered to stay away from the victim and to abide by a harrassment prevention order.
An Andover resident called police Saturday after he saw someone ruining the sign on his Jenkins Road lawn, police said Saturday.
The man told police he confronted the woman, later identified as Bryant, and she drove off in an erratic manner, forcing him to leap out of the way of the oncoming car.
It is not the first time Bryant has defaced signs on that property, police said.
“During this presidential election season, opinions as to who the next president should be may differ,” Andover Police Chief Keefe said in a statement Saturday. “The ability to express those opinions openly and freely is the cornerstone of democracy in our country.
“Our concern is when people take it upon themselves to wrongly extend their ability of expression into vandalism and assault,” he added. “The victim in this case was only protecting his freedom of speech and expression.”
Bryant is due back in court on Sept. 29 for a pre-trial hearing.