MONTPELIER, Vt. (CBS/AP) – The vandalism of a Black Lives Matter mural that was painted on the street in front of Vermont’s statehouse is under investigation, police said.
Hundreds gathered Saturday in Montpelier to paint the mural, which said “Black Lives Matter” in yellow letters. But Montpelier police say the painting was smeared with mud, dirt and oil early on Sunday, and graffiti was sprayed on the sidewalk nearby.
A photo released by police shows graffiti with messages including “$400 million gone” and “Put it back call Trump.” A statement from police says the graffiti “referenced government spending” but did not appear to be directed at the mural.
Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, who was among those who helped with the painting, condemned the vandalism. She said officials are working to restore the mural and authorities are trying to identify the perpetrators.
“While it is easy to be disgusted and angered by the vandalism of these anonymous cowards, for me their actions reinforce the need to address head-on the racism and white supremacy right here in our communities,” Johnson, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Montpelier Police asked the public to help identify a man who was seen in the area of the Statehouse while the mural was painted the day before.
He is described as a white man around 50 years old. The suspect is about 5’8″ and 170 pounds with scruffy facial hair. He was wearing a dark colored hat, a dark and loose jacket and blue jeans.
Police said the man was caught on camera vandalizing the mural.
The mural was similar to others that have been painted near the White House in Washington and in other cities. It had been approved by the city council and supported by Gov. Phil Scott.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)