Santa Cruz Black Lives Matter mural damage investigated as vandalism

SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz Police Department is investigating blue paint spread across a downtown Black Lives Matter street painting as a vandalism case, a city official confirmed Monday.

Just over a month after the community gathered to restore a street art project with the help of convicted vandals, the downtown Black Lives Matter mural was defaced once again. (City of Santa Cruz -- Contributed)
Just over a month after the community gathered to restore a street art project with the help of convicted vandals, the downtown Black Lives Matter mural was defaced once again. (City of Santa Cruz — Contributed)

The city was alerted to the damage Saturday and sent out a Public Works Department team to powerwash the puddled blue paint that night. The cleanup took place even “as cars driving over it (were) spreading it further,” city spokesperson Erika Smart said. In an initial weekend press release about the defacement, which occurred just over a month after a large-scale community repainting at its 809 Center St. home, Smart remained neutral about whether the placement of a large amount of blue paint was believed to be intentional.

“We still don’t know how the paint ended up there, but we’re reviewing all the video surveillance footage that we can in the area to help inform the investigation,” Smart said, on behalf of the police department and the city.

Smart said city officials will work with the SC Equity Collab artists behind the original mural’s installation to collaborate on repainting, but said she did not immediately have details on such plans while the police investigation remained underway.

The group of local residents originally came together during the social justice movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020. Shortly after a community gathering and paint refreshment in July 2021, several young men were involved in leaving repeated tire burn-out marks across the painting, a hate crime to which they pleaded guilty in November.

Officials are asking anyone with information related to the incident to contact police at 831-420-5995.

The Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Santa Cruz has once again been damaged. The public art project created by artist Abi Mustapha and the Santa Cruz Equity Collab, was repainted in June with the help of dozens of volunteers after it was defaced with tire burnout marks in 2021. June's event was intended to be a restorative justice event as the community continues to heal from the original defacing of the mural. (Shmuel Thaler - Santa Cruz Sentinel)
The Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Santa Cruz has once again been damaged. The public art project created by artist Abi Mustapha and the Santa Cruz Equity Collab, was repainted in June with the help of dozens of volunteers after it was defaced with tire burnout marks in 2021. June’s event was intended to be a restorative justice event as the community continues to heal from the original defacing of the mural. (Shmuel Thaler – Santa Cruz Sentinel)

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