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‘This won’t change our commitment:’ Wisconsin GOP’s new field office in Milwaukee vandalized

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MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin GOP's new field office located near Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. and North Avenue in Milwaukee was vandalized Tuesday night, Feb. 18.

In a tweet, the Wisconsin GOP said, "This won’t change our commitment to reaching voters in the community. What kind of intolerance can we expect to see when Democrats bring their convention to Milwaukee this summer?"

PHOTO GALLERY

Senator Ron Johnson was in Milwaukee Thursday, Feb. 6 to help open the Republican Party campaign office in the neighborhood not used to seeing one -- Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood -- so the vandalism happened less than two weeks after the office opened.

"Obviously, we have some painting and some spray painting, and thankfully, it's limited to that," said Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. "Hopefully, it doesn't go beyond that."

Hitt said he found the damage Wednesday morning. While there are plenty of cameras at the office, it wasn't immediately clear if they were working at the time.

"We're working on improving our security cameras and our situation, so we will work on that going forward," said Hitt.

There was no vandalism to neighboring shops. Hitt said he believes those responsible don't side with the GOP.

"We've seen this increased intolerance of the left," said Hitt. "Freedom of ideas to talk about what we believe in -- that's what we're here for, to be part of this community."

FOX6 reached out to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and received this statement from Philip Shulman, spokesman:

"Unlike the Republican Party, we unequivocally condemn actions like this, regardless of who is targeted."

Those inside the Wisconsin GOP office said it wouldn't derail their work.

Opening of the Wisconsin GOP office in Milwaukee

The opening of the office happened as a national Washington Post-IPSOS poll found that eight in 10 black Americans describe President Donald Trump as a "racist." Wisconsin GOP officials said the opening of the campaign office was a genuine effort to court African American voters, while others called the effort window dressing.

"The Republican Party of Wisconsin will pursue every vote in this state by engaging every voter," said Gerard Randall of the Republican Party of Wisconsin African American Council.

With people packed into the first state GOP office in Milwaukee in years, party leaders acknowledged African American voters have been an afterthought -- but that this effort is different.

"This is about welcoming part of the community, caring about the community, and we're looking forward and building for the future," said Andrew Hitt, chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Milwaukee County Democrats said voters, especially black voters, can't be taken for granted.

Chris Walton

"It's quite interesting, especially now, considering President Trump, that the party would want to open up an office now, after they've done everything they can to stoke so much division," said Chris Walton, chair of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County.

Walton questioned Republicans' ability to make inroads in staunchly Democratic Milwaukee County: "It gives us something to do besides just turning out voters."

"Donald Trump is not popular in the African American or the minority Hispanic communities," said Tory Lowe, a community activist. "What's the agenda for the African American community?"

Ron Johnson

Community activists, like Lowe, questioned the GOP's motives, as well: Was this done to get a win in November, or to address issues in the community?

"We've got good ideas, and we're concerned about everybody," Sen. Johnson said. "We want to see everybody succeed."

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