.Black Lives Matter Mural Vandal Seen On Video

Police seek help identifying suspect

Santa Cruz Police released security camera footage on Wednesday of a man wanted for vandalizing the Downtown Black Lives Matter street-mural last Saturday.

The suspect was revealed to be a white male riding a distinctive red motor scooter with chrome trim and a plexiglass windscreen. He wore a light blue shirt, white shorts, and white casual footwear. The man’s face is obscured by a helmet and mask, but video clearly shows the man approaching the mural with a can of blue paint and leaving the scene

The SCPD has requested that persons with any knowledge of the incident call 831-420-5995 to share their information.

At a Wednesday press conference, Police Chief Bernie Escalante said the man responsible “committed a cowardly act of hatred and needs to be held responsible.”

Members of the Santa Cruz community of Black activists also spoke at the press conference.

secure document shredding

“What happened on Saturday instills fear in some people,” said Elaine Johnson, Santa Cruz NAACP president. “It’s a time for change.”

“We are hurt, and we are angry,” Santa Cruz Councilwoman Sonja Brunner read from a response written by SC Equity Collab, the activist group who saw the mural project to completion in September 2020. The group says that resistance to their cause shows that they are “making waves,”

“We know we are on the right track toward obtaining equity, justice, and healing, and we will not be stopped,” the Collab said in their statement.

The block-long mural, on Center Street between City Hall and the Downtown Library, was damaged some time before 6 p.m. last Saturday. Blue paint was poured across the letters A and C. Passing cars driving through the pools subsequently left painted tracks from end to end.

The Department of Public Works was immediately sent to the scene with high pressure water hoses, removing much of the paint,  but considerable restoration work remains.

This is the second time the mural has been vandalized. In 2021, Hagan Warner and Brandon Bochat defaced the mural with tire marks. The two pleaded guilty and were sentenced to probation, $19,623 in restitution and 144 hours each of community service.

Just one month ago, professional artists, community organizers and city officials gathered at an emotional community to repaint the mural. Bochat and Warner attended to assist with the repair and read statements of apology.

SC Equity Collab is considering options for repainting the mural. They say they will press for hate crime charges when the current suspect is identified and arrested.


1 COMMENT

  1. I saw that vespa with a girl riding it getting on Morrissey Saturday between Soquel and the freeway coming from the south side neighborhood. My guess is that the police could look at the DMV database and track down who owns a red Vespa in the area. Vespa’s are rare and a red one with a windshield is even more rare.

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