March 16, 2017
Harassment continues in Collingswood for a pair of sisters who show their love of President Donald Trump in the liberal South Jersey borough.
Lauren Boisvert spoke about the latest incidents during a Thursday morning appearance on the Dom Giordano talk radio show on WPHT 1210 AM.
The Boisverts’ rented home and its lawn are dotted with flags, banners and posters supporting Trump.
One hand-made poster reads “LIBERAL HATE HAS NO HOME HERE.”
In a PhillyVoice story published Tuesday, Boisvert discussed nearly 20 incidents of vandalism, harassment and threats she says have resulted for going all-in on supporting Trump. Since the story ran, four incidents of harassment occurred on just one day this week, she said, including a woman who dropped the F-bomb while her child sat strapped into a car seat. Lauren and her sister were outside shoveling snow.
That day they were also called “Nazi” and had to listen to a cluster of F-bombs that accompanied the ice balls thrown at them by a group of kids, according to the sisters.
“What kind of woman drops the F-bomb in front of her child?” Lauren Boisvert asked Giordano on the radio show.
But a neighbor, Tara Boyarsky Parvey, told PhillyVoice on Thursday the Boisverts' yard display is clearly meant to provoke a response and “seems to be twisting the knife.”
“The signs are not nice. She’s entitled to say what she wants to say, but she does not have a right to be treated nicely,” said Parvey, a former lawyer who now works in dispute arbitration and did not support Trump.
But one Collingswood native, a psychologist who specializes in behavioral therapy, sees the issue simply as "condescension" toward the Boisverts from "the liberal left" – originally from Philadelphia and its universities – who have populated Collingswood in recent decades.
The attitude "is a narcissistic superiority," said Johanna Scheets said of some residents' intolerance of the Boisverts' display of Trump support.
"It has more to do with the intolerance of the town than with them," said Scheets, who has five children in the borough's school system. She lives in neighboring Oaklyn.
In an appearance Wednesday on the Giordano program, Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley minimized the issues experienced by the sisters, saying he only had reports of 11 incidents, all handled by borough patrol officers.
Lauren Boisvert told Giordano on Thursday that she agreed to come on his show to counter “incorrect statements” made by Maley.
Maley did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday morning. Giordano said he hoped to have Boisvert and the mayor on his show together in the near future.
Collingswood police Chief Kevin Carey has not responded to repeated requests for comment from PhillyVoice, including a new request made Thursday morning. The city has yet to fulfill a formal by PhillyVoice request for police incident reports and emails related to the Boisvert complaints.
On the radio show Wednesday, Maley likened the vandalization of the sisters' signs to having his own campaign signs removed during an election, which he said happens frequently.
But the Boisverts' signs and banners are not technically “campaign” signs, which the borough does have the authority to regulate.
“All of my signs are street legal, they just can't have the year of election on them. I did my research,” Lauren Boisvert wrote to PhillyVoice.
But what most irked her was what she saw as Maley’s comments minimizing the vandalism and harassment at their home and making it seem as though he was hearing about some incidents for the first time.
Lauren Boisvert contended on Wednesday that there were far more than the 11 incidents acknowledged by Maley, closer to 20.
“It’s not our fault if they were not recorded correctly,” she said.
Borough detectives, not just patrol officers, have been to their property on several occasions, despite what the mayor told Giordano, Lauren Boisvert stated.
“I know the name of every detective in Collingswood,” she said Wednesday afternoon.
She said the four incidents of harassment in the form of shouts that came one day this week would be reported to police as well.
Lauren Boisvert, who said she and her sister addressed the mayor directly about the incidents during a live-streamed town forum in October, alleged Maley "just brushed it under the rug" and then “forgot about it.”
Giordano, a conservative radio show host who said he often patronizes Collingswood restaurants, said the vandalization and harassment stands out because the town characterizes itself as inclusive. He noted its candlelight vigils for liberal causes.
Lauren Boisvert told Giordano she was “horrified” by the responses to her support of Trump.
She repeated that word when asked Wednesday about threads on social media about their experiences. The comments on one thread, eventually shut down by an administrator, ran to more than 450 and ranged across the spectrum, though many were nasty.
One of the few commenters who sought to strike a balance was Joseph Russell.
“I can't believe this is hard to understand. No matter what 'side' of this article (because everything's sides now) you're on, the heart of this article is that people are vandalizing this woman's home because they see her as speaking for all Trump voters.
“Her signs, though, go beyond that. This is her being small. And she wants a ‘safe space?’" – Tara Boyarsky Parvey, a neighbor of the Boisverts
“Meanwhile, tons of people on this thread are counter-claiming that the vandals speak for all 'liberals.' It's the same thing. It's the same. Exact. Thing. You can't decry the vandalism and simultaneously blame 'liberals'.
“If you want to see the nuance in this woman not deserving the vandalism, then you also see the nuance in all 'liberals' not having the same opinion toward someone who flies a Trump flag in their yard,” wrote Russell.
“I want people to leave us alone,” Boisvert told Giordano near the end of the interview, while allowing that “cursing quietly” while driving by their home was acceptable.
Parvey, the neighbor, said she has personally heard people curse out Boisvert while passing the home. But has also heard neighborhood talk of a 3 a.m. election night shouting match which ended with Boisvert allegedly calling a neighbor an obscene word for a body part. Another neighbor mentioned the same incident.
“Her claiming victimization is ironic," said Parvey. "As a neighbor, I don’t find her signs as very neighborly. I personally find her support for Trump repugnant. But support is fine.
“Her signs, though, go beyond that. This is her being small. And she wants a ‘safe space?’
“Our town is very open. If she wants to feel welcome, though, she needs to come more to the middle,” said Parvey.
Scheets, for her part, emphatically disagrees about who needs to be more tolerant.
Scheets, who supported Trump, said her own father had Trump signs taken from his Collingswood home's lawn.
She said the "catty stuff" and online "bullying" she read in threads on Facebook about the sisters' experiences comes from largely from recent arrivals in Collingswood.
"They need validation. It is an echo chamber," Scheets said. "I don't think people are tolerating each other; they are reinforcing their own viewpoints."