A "Black Lives Matter" mural, painted on a downtown Santa Cruz street, was vandalized Friday evening with what appear to be tire tread marks from a vehicle, and police are following up on leads to determine who is responsible for the crime.
Santa Cruz police officers received a report of vandalism to the mural Saturday morning. The crime took place Friday evening. The mural is painted in the 800 block of Center Street. The responding officers located the vandalism.
Officers have been investigating throughout Saturday and, with assistance from community members, detectives were able to obtain video of the crime, in which a vehicle is intentionally "burning out" and applying tire tread marks across the length of the mural. With the video evidence, investigators have identified a possible vehicle and a person or persons of interest.
A police spokesperson said investigators are continuing to check on additional leads to identify and locate those responsible for last night's vandalism. If the elements of a hate crime are met, the police department will seek appropriate criminal charges.
Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers and Police Chief Andy Mills viewed the damage early Saturday morning.
"Vandalism of our Black Lives Matter mural is unacceptable and must be dealt with immediately. 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," Meyers said. Chief "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," Mills said. "Justice must be served as this crime affects (and) deteriorates the civility of our community and creates a higher level of anxiety for many citizens, including our black community."
"This crime saddens me greatly," said Brenda Griffin, president of the local NAACP branch. "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."
Reacting to the vandalism of a Black Lives Matter street mural in downtown Santa Cruz, the city's mayor and police chief will host a community briefing Sunday morning to inform the public on the police department's investigation of the incident.
Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers and Santa Cruz Police Chief Andy Mills will host the Sunday briefing, which will begin at 11 a.m., at the Santa Cruz Police Department, 155 Center St., Santa Cruz.
Meyers and Mills will brief the public with updated information on the vandalism case and address questions from local organizations, families, neighbors and residents. The mural, in the 800 block of Center Street, was vandalized Friday night.
City leaders will listen to citizens' concerns and gather additional information.
Those interested in submitting a question in advance may call (831) 420-5844 and leave a voicemail with the question.
The community briefing is part of an ongoing dialogue between the mayor, police chief and the city's residents.
Anyone with information is also asked to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department's investigations unit at (831) 420-5820.