Four People Arrested For Vandalising Pro-Police ‘Back The Blue’ Mural In Florida
Four people have been arrested for allegedly vandalising the ‘Back the Blue’ mural outside Tampa Police Department in Florida.
The huge pro-police mural, which has been mocked widely since it was completed on August 2, was painted in downtown Tampa in response to widespread calls to defund the police following the killing of George Floyd.
In the weeks that have followed, the mural has been defaced a number of times, including on Tuesday night, August 11, when authorities said a group of people were caught spray-painting profanities and the word ‘pigs’ on the mural in front of police headquarters on Madison Street just before 11.00pm.
Tampa police arrested four people – three teenage adults and one juvenile – before giving the underage person a notice to appear and releasing them to their parents. Alexander Drummond, 18, Seth Raigoza, 18, and Emily Gabaree, 19, were arrested and charged with one count of criminal mischief following the incident.
A friend of the three teens said around 20 police officers ‘swarmed’ them, labelling them ‘rude’ and telling the Washington Examiner: ‘People are being treated incorrectly by police officers. Not every police officer, obviously, but it’s a message that needs to be spread, and it needs to be done right.’
The incident was only the latest example of people painting over the mural. Since it was painted almost two weeks ago, two other groups have vandalised it with tar and red paint, with one group also spray-painting graffiti on the front door of the police headquarters. Officials have not arrested those individuals.
A group of about 40 people got together to paint the mural on August 1, with the intention of showing police officers ‘there’s a huge force’ supporting them.
Kelli Campbell, who helped organise the mural, told local television station FOX 13 at the time:
We want to make sure that they know just because we aren’t the loudest doesn’t mean we aren’t there and in numbers. There’s a huge force. Our Back the Blue Florida group has 5,000 members in it, and that’s just a piece of the puzzle, of course.
Unsurprisingly, the mural has proved controversial from the start, with many criticising those responsible for painting it as they didn’t have a permit to do so.
City officials said the mural was never approved, while the group responsible said they received verbal approval from the mayor’s office.
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CreditsWashington Examiner and 2 others
FOX 13 Tampa Bay/Twitter