'Shame on you': Santa Cruz police chief calls out those downplaying BLM mural vandalism

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- Two suspects were arrested on felony charges in connection to the defacing of a Black Lives Matter mural in Santa Cruz, police announced Sunday.

The Black Lives Matter mural was vandalized Friday night, according to police.

"As a community member, as a woman of color this is very, very hard," said Santa Cruz's Vice Mayor Sonja Brunner who spoke at a rare Sunday press conference where Santa Cruz police chief Andrew Mills announced that 20-year-old Brandon Bochat and 19-year-old Hagan Warner had been arrested in connection to the crime.

"This wasn't just a couple kids fooling around doing a burnout on the street, this was an intentional act of vandalism on something that our community holds dear," said Santa Cruz Police Chief Andrew Mills.

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Both men face charges of felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit a felony. On SCPD's Facebook page, there are multiple posts on the incident, each with more than a thousand comments. Some echoing community members who spoke Sunday. One woman said, "This wasn't a simple act of vandalism, this was a terrorist act against the community."

Both suspects are White and with the mural saying, "Black Lives Matter," some believe hate crime charges should apply. The police chief says they are looking into that, "Determining whether it was an attack on the organization or the individuals who comprise the organization will be an important piece."

We reached out to the two suspects online but have not yet heard back from them.
"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," said Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers. "There is no place for racism or acts of hate in the City of Santa Cruz."

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Police say the pair took turns driving the car involved in the vandalism.

Volunteers painted the mural last September on the street in front of City Hall.

The chief says two additional people may have also been involved, detectives are scouring social media which has played an important role so far here, and will work at bringing immediate justice.

"For those that seek to minimize the events that took place, to negate the responsibility of 'oh they're just kids fooling around.' Shame on you!" said Chief Mills.

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