UPDATE: Two suspects have been arrested in connection with this incident, police announced.
Investigators said they are honing in on the driver of a car who intentionally vandalized a prominent “Black Lives Matter” mural painted on a street in a busy California town.
Police said the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
The incident happened in Santa Cruz, south of San Jose, along California’s Central Coast. Police shared images of the destruction online.
“On the morning of July 24th, 2021, The Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) received a report of vandalism to the "Black Lives Matter" mural painted at 800 Center St.” police stated. “Responding officers located the damaged mural, which consisted of vehicle tread marks across the painting. The crime took place the prior evening. SCPD Investigators were called in to begin immediate follow-up work to identify the suspect(s). With assistance from the community, Detectives were able to obtain video of the crime, in which a vehicle is seen intentionally "burning out" and applying tire tread marks across the length of the mural. With this video evidence, Investigators have identified a possible vehicle and person(s) of interest.”
Investigators said they are tracking down possible suspect(s) in the crime.
“Investigators continue to follow up on all leads to identify and locate those responsible for this vandalism,” police also stated. “Investigators are working on this case from the perspective that this is a hate crime. If the elements of a hate crime are met, the Santa Cruz Police Department will seek appropriate charges. Mayor Donna Meyers and Chief Andy Mills viewed the damage early this morning.”
Community leaders said they were outraged by the incident. They vowed to bring the person(s) responsible to justice.
“Vandalism of our Black Lives Matter mural is unacceptable and must be dealt with immediately,” said Mayor Meyers. “The Santa Cruz Police are actively investigating this crime and keeping me up to date. We will work to repair the mural and stand in solidarity with our community to oppose hate.”
“This type of behavior is unacceptable in our community, and we will pour all of the resources necessary to ensure we identify and prosecute those responsible,” Chief Mills said. “Justice must be served as this crime affects deteriorates the civility of our community, and creates a higher level of anxiety for many citizens, including our black community.” Additionally, both added, "There is no place for racism or acts of hate in the City of Santa Cruz."
“This crime saddens me greatly,” Brenda Griffin, the NAACP's local branch president, said. "The NAACP is glad the police have placed a high priority on this investigation. It's extraordinarily frustrating as some people still don't get Black Lives Matter too. This mural is a symbol of hope. We want our youth to know we have their backs.”
Police urged people with information about the incident to come forward with information that might lead to an arrest in the case. It’s unclear how the vandalism will be removed.
“Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department Investigations Unit (831) 420-5820,” police urged.