SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Several Shelby County leaders’ homes were the target of vandals overnight, and now police are investigating to catch those responsible.
WREG was first made aware that Shelby County Commission Chairman Mark Billingsley’s home in Germantown was targeted early Wednesday morning. The vandals poured paint on the driveway and signs were left behind, which were collected by police as evidence.
The Germantown Police Department described the signs as “political leaflets” that “were distributed onto his property.” The signs were related to defunding the police and the sheriff’s office.
Billingsley released the following message to those responsible:
“I have tried to be a champion of the underserved and marginalized in my personal, professional and public life. Vandalizing our home and scaring my family is a really poor way to communicate a message. My faith tells me to pray for the people that did this and that is what I will do. I am always willing to sit down and talk with anyone. I would encourage whoever felt compelled to do this, to speak with me. This will not change my efforts to improve our community, nor change my heart. I want to be a part of solutions to better Shelby County for all of us.”
Authorities are investigating similar incidents at the homes of Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner and County Commissioner Amber Mills.
Mills’ husband Lee Mills posted about the incident on Facebook several hours after it happened and showed that the vandals left several different letters in his front yard. One read “Defund the Shelby County Sheriff Department. Fund Shelby County Schools” and another said “Fund virtual therapy services.” Still another demanded a raise for teachers.
Lee Mills said both he and his wife were targeted because they defend law enforcement.
“My wife is Chair of the Law Enforcement Committee and fought to fully fund the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. I am endorsed by the Shelby County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and many others in law enforcement.
These actions only strengthen our resolve to stand with our police and first responders.
Ironically, one of my campaign phrases is, “Our students are over-tested and our teachers are undervalued.” I fully support our teachers and educators. That’s why I am also endorsed by a majority of School Board Members throughout the District. Apparently, the vandals didn’t read my campaign material?
The stained driveway will be a daily reminder that now, more than ever, we must DEFEND our police!“
Commissioner Mills also said she believes she was targeted because of her support for law enforcement.
“Vandalizing or terrorizing property is not the way to get your message across,” she said.
She and Billingsley are chair and vice-chair of the law enforcement committee. In June, a proposal was presented to cut the sheriff’s office budget by $9 million. Mills said it failed.
Mills said she would not support a resolution to defund law enforcement, and these attacks will not change her mind.
“We need our law enforcement,” Commissioner Mills said. “This is not something that you can just do away and put somewhere else and think all our problems are going to solved. That is not the case. We need law and order.”
Billingsley’s neighbors agreed that’s not the best way for someone’s voice to be heard.
“It only promotes aggression, and people are just going to get more mad and more mad, and it’s not going to solve the problem,” neighbor Chase Rhylander said.
“There’s kids there,” Meredith Rhylander said. “They woke up to all sorts of stuff and detectives and things like that. It shouldn’t involve them.”
Both Billingsley and Mills said they are willing to having open conversations with people about the topics.
WREG reached out to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, and we were told the sheriff was not available.
No arrests have been made.
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