Police in Northern California arrested two men over allegedly vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural painted on a street in Santa Cruz, reports the Associated Press.
The men allegedly took turns performing burnouts with their vehicles along the mural on a downtown Santa Cruz street, defacing it with tire tread marks. The mural had recently been repainted in celebration of Juneteenth, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported Sunday.
Santa Cruz police officers on Sunday arrested a 20-year-old and 19-year-old, both of Santa Cruz County, on charges of felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit a felony. Both were released on bail.
A man who answered a phone listed for the 19-year-old and identified himself as his grandfather but wouldn’t give his name said the defacing of the mural was not about race.
“They are kids, they did something stupid. They made a mistake,” he said. The man said his grandson has not yet hired an attorney.
Santa Cruz police are investigating the matter as a hate crime, the newspaper reported. In California, a hate crime enhancement could result in an additional year in state prison.
“The Black, the community at large, the people of color in our community felt this was a personal attack,” Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills said. “Let’s face it, of the 5,000-plus street segments in our city, that was the only one? We can see what took place here.”