Two men charged for reportedly vandalizing Black Lives Matter artwork in California

Santa Cruz police released this image showing damage to a Black Lives Matter street mural. © Santa Cruz Police Department

Santa Cruz police said during a news conference Sunday that they arrested and charged two men, 20-year-old Brandon Bochat and 19-year-old Hagan Warner, in connection with the vandalism.

The Santa Cruz police, along the mayor released the following statement in regards to the investigation:

“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 Street. 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 continue to follow up on all leads to identify and locate those responsible for this vandalism.

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. “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,” said Mayor Meyers. Chief Mills added, “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. 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.” Brenda Griffin, the NAACP’s local branch president, said, “This crime saddens me greatly. 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.”

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