Christopher W. and Theodore M. Gardner have replaced 10 slashed tires, had four windows on their Ford Street home broken by BB gun pellets and seen the siding on their home peppered by BBs over the last few years.
Weve been in the neighborhood since 2008, Christopher Gardner said. None of the other homes around us have been targeted. We are the only openly gay couple in the neighborhood. What else could it possibly be?
The Gardners have alleged that they are the victims of a hate crime.
The chief of the citys police department, however, says investigators so far have no evidence to show the Gardners are being targeted because of their sexual orientation.
There are numerous people in the city who have suffered vandalism, Chief Richard J. Polniak Jr. said, usually because they have beef with someone in the neighborhood.
Since November the Gardners have filed three reports with police that Mr. Polniak said his agency is investigating. Mr. Polniak said he did not want to release any details out of fear of jeopardizing the investigation.
Im not saying for sure that its not a hate crime, Mr. Polniak said. But there is information that we do have that leads me to believe that its not. Somebody there has got an enemy somewhere.
The Gardners said they were on the verge of leaving Ogdensburg a week ago before they decided to go public, and cited community support for their decision to turn to the media for help.
The only reason we came back and started this fight is because neighbors told us we cant leave, Christopher Gardner said. They dont want this neighborhood taken over.
The Gardners have started an online Go Fund Me account at www.gofundme.com/72txw8 where they are hoping to raise $1,000 to use as a reward for anyone who helps bring the vandals to justice.
We just cant take it anymore, Christopher Gardner said. If its not a hate crime then [the police will] prove that its not a hate crime. The only thing that were asking is for people to come forward and help us find them. Somebody has said something. Somebody has bragged about it. I want people to know that there is money out there if they come forward.
In addition to the police, Theodore Gardner said they have also reached out to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
NYCLU Central New York Chapter Director Barrie Gewanter confirmed that her organization spoke with the Gardners and they are looking into the matter.
At this point were considering responding on their behalf, she said.
The Gardners said they have an idea of who might be responsible for the mischief, but did not identify them.
After their windows were shot out and their tires slashed earlier this month, Theodore Gardner said, he turned over some names of potential suspects to the police.
I think I know who it is, Theodore Gardner said. If there is a motive, I dont know it. The people that we suspect are doing it were friends of ours. They were here visiting once, pulled out drugs. We asked them to leave; we did not know that they did drugs.
Theodore Gardner said he and his husband cut off all ties with their former friends after the incident.
I guess they thought we were going to be narcs [and tell the police about the drugs], Theodore Gardner said. Thats when all of our troubles started.
Christopher Gardner said, We cant have that in our home.
The Gardners have turned to social media to help find the perpetrators of the vandalism, and Christopher Gardner said they are hoping to dig up hard evidence tying the people they suspect to the crime.
The Gardners have also requested the investigation be handed over to state police, but Mr. Polniak said because the vandalism is taking place within the city, his deparment has jurisdiction over the matter.
We are making additional checks of the area, Mr. Polniak said. We are doing our investigation.