Lawrenceville resident Sharon Wood is an active member of the Gwinnett Democratic Party, and she doesn’t shy away from showing support for her party — but she said that support led to a harrowing experience with a Trump supporter Monday.
Wood has bumper tickers supporting Stacey Abrams, Barack Obama, the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ rights on her car. She even has a bumper sticker calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
That support made her a target of one avid Trump supporter while she was shopping. The incident began with two “I love Trump” stickers being put on her car, progressed to a man yelling at her and ended with the man following her in his work truck Monday afternoon.
“Just the wording — it was just the day before that Trump had talked about the squad (of four Democratic congresswomen) and said that they hate our country and that they should go back to the country they came from,” Wood said.
“Trump’s essentially saying that people that disagree with what he’s doing are un-American or traitors. I mean it’s not hard to figure out where this is coming from.”
The man accused of confronting Wood could end up facing criminal charges. Solicitor General Brian Whiteside announced Thursday that his office is looking at pursuing charges of simple assault, criminal trespass and misdemeanor stalking against the man.
The incident began in the parking lot at the Publix located at the corner of Sugarloaf Parkway and Five Forks Trickum Road.
Wood said she came out of the store and found two “I Love Trump” stickers had been put on the back of her car while she was shopping.
One of them was placed on a “Stacey Abrams for governor” sticker that she had on her car. Trump had endorsed Abrams’ main opponent, Republican Brian Kemp, in last year’s gubernatorial race.
“I just peeled them off and tossed them in my car and finished loading my groceries,” Wood said. “And then when I went to get into the driver’s side of the car, I hear this guy yelling from across the parking lot ‘(expletive) traitor. You (expletive) traitor’ and I look over there and see this work van and this guy yelling.
“I just shook my head, sort of like ‘You idiot’ ... I got in my car and left and he immediately started following me. That’s when I stopped being annoyed and started being scared.”
Wood alleged that the man, who was driving a work truck, followed her on the road, turning when she turned. She then opted to not go to her house as he continued to follow her until she quickly turned into a strip mall.
She said the truck couldn’t turn fast enough to follow her into the parking lot, but the man blew his horn at her as he drove by.
When she returned home, she called the company named on the truck.
“I’m like, ‘Hi, I’m jut wondering how many work vans you have?’ and he said ‘Why do you want to know?’ I said ‘Well because I’d like to file a complaint against one of your workers who harassed me at Publix.’
“He’s like, ‘Why don’t you complain to Stacey Abrams?’ “
At that point, Wood said he allegedly confirmed that he was the man who followed her and then hung up the phone.
A photo of the back of Wood’s car with the “I Love Trump” stickers attached was posted to Facebook on Monday by a man identified as Tommy Dunaway. In addition to the one sticker that had been put on top of her Stacey Abrams sticker, the second one was put on top of a Black Lives Matter bumper sticker.
The post was still on his page as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I added some ‘I love Trump’ stickers to this (expletive) collection,” he said in the post.
As of Thursday afternoon, there has been no response to a message a Daily Post reporter left for the man from the Facebook post.
After the story of what happened to Wood began to spread Monday and Tuesday, the website and Facebook page for the company listed on the van was taken down and the business’ status was changed to “Permanently Closed” on Google.
Meanwhile, Wood said she called Lawrenceville police to the report the incident Monday and an officer came out to talk to her.
“(He) essentially said, ‘Oh gee, that’s too bad that it happened. Things are just really heated on both sides these days so, you know, have a nice day,’” Wood said.
Wood told Keaton what happened, however, and that prompted the local Democratic Party chairwoman to share it on social media.
Gwinnett Democratic Party Chairwoman Bianca Keaton posted the account on Facebook, which prompted Whiteside to get involved.
“We will move quickly and make an accusation (against the man),” Whiteside said.
The solicitor said his office’s police chief as well as Lawrenceville police are now investigating the matter.
Keaton said she believed comments made by Trump — including telling four minority congresswomen to “go back” to countries where they or their ancestors came from — were inspiring incidents such as what happened to Wood.
“We do live in a time, unfortunately, where the president is stirring the pot with his rhetoric which is deeply painful,” Keaton said.
Even some Republicans expressed shock at the allegations.
Former state Rep. Buzz Brockway condemned the man’s actions on Facebook and called on him to apologize for what the Republican called “despicable actions.”
“It’s wrong no matter who does it, and we as people need to rid ourselves of this contempt for our neighbors,” Brockway said.
Wood said she isn’t deterred by the incident, however, and will continue to support Democratic Party causes and candidates.
“This is a democracy and, in the current environment, dissent is crucial to make sure this remains a democracy,” she said. “Even if someone tries to intimidate me, I will not be silenced.”