Lauren Boisvert has a master's degree in public relations and a Donald Trump tattoo on her left foot.
The 29-year-old Collingswood resident got the ink work done last summer, after trespassers started stealing the pro-Trump paraphernalia she displays proudly, if not provocatively, outside the home she shares with a younger sister.
The thefts, car-keying, profane name-calling, and threats – “a bunch of kids on bikes said they wanted to burn down our house,” Boisvert recalls — pretty much ceased after the Nov. 8 election and a borough police investigation.
But a fresh round of abuse, including what she describes as a drive-by F-bomb from a woman with a child in the car, started this week after the posting of a Philly Voice story in which Boisvert cast herself as a “liberal hate” target in a community generally regarded as South Jersey's unofficial capital of tolerance for all.
This was the notion zestfully explored by conservative Philly talk radio's Dom Giordano during separate 1210 WPHT interviews with Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley on Wednesday and Boisvert on Thursday.
Sounds like Collingswood “isn't inclusive,” smirked the host.
“He was on my side,” Boisvert observes, accurately.
Says Maley, “Giordano's thing is that we're holding vigils for [progressive causes] and doing nothing to help this poor girl. But the angle that the borough is disrespecting her is nonsense.”
Sounding as ticked off as he had on the air, the mayor notes that the borough did not organize a vigil last year for the Orlando massacre victims. Giordano referenced that event and also, rather inexplicably, mentioned that Maley has officiated at same-sex weddings. (Yo, Dom, what's up with that?)
Maley says police responded to 11 incident complaints Boisvert reported between June and November; lent her a surveillance camera; posted a captured image of a youthful trespasser on the department's Facebook page; and paid a visit to a borough school as part of its investigation.
“Things like this, with people stealing signs and being rude, shouldn't happen,” the mayor adds. “But it's not representative of Collingswood.”
Meanwhile, the controversy so blew up the “In the Wood, Collingswood” Facebook page that one comment thread was shut down.
Posts still visible there and elsewhere online offer competing character sketches of Boisvert as heroic idealist/shrewd opportunist, one who's either exercising a sacred right of free speech or hell-bent on helping Trump destroy Collingswood and the rest of America.
“I actually don't do any social media at all,” says Boisvert, saying Facebook carries too much fake news.
Sharing a table at the Haddon Avenue coffee shop Grooveground, I find her to be smart, earnest, and engaging.
Outside, an Action News camera guy shoots B-reel of the street – “I'd love to be on TV,” Boisvert says – while inside, the semi-hipster haven seems blessedly free of the haters she says she regularly hears from.
She says she gets plenty of support as well, including from local people who say they’re afraid to show the Trump love she wears like a badge of honor.
“Before I came over here, a man I don't know, who said he is a veteran who lives on Atlantic Avenue, knocked on my door and gave my sister and me hoagies from Wawa, to thank us,” Boisvert says, emotion in her voice.
She also gets emotional describing her faith in Trump, who she says is the president the nation needs in a dangerous world. She works as a part-time bookkeeper and is looking for a full-time job.
“The tattoo is his signature, taken off a hat of mine I got him to sign at a rally” last spring, she explains, adding that the event at the Delaware State Fairgrounds was when she “felt like I personally” connected with the man himself.
“We were so close to him,” she recalls. “People were singing the national anthem. Everyone there really loved America.
“And I thought, 'This is amazing. This is what I want. All the time.' ”
I tell Boisvert I didn't vote for him.
I don't tell her I find virtually everything our new president says and does appalling.
She'll read it here, soon enough. And our conversation is coming to an end.
“The signs are staying up,” Boisvert says. “I am peacefully giving people my opinion. It's my right.
“I'm not weak. I'm not giving in. I tell my mom, 'Those signs won't be coming down for eight years.' ”