Black Lives Matter mural outside Trump Tower defaced for fourth time in weeks as NYPD pays officers overtime to protect painting

Painting in support of the Black Lives Matter movement becomes flashpoint on the city's iconic Fifth Avenue, just outside of the president's skyscraper

Monday 27 July 2020 16:50
California police seeking white man and woman who defaced Black Lives Matter mural

A Black Lives Matter mural painted outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan that has faced significant vandalism since it was unveiled earlier this month was defaced for the fourth time in weeks, according to police.

Mark David Hutt was charged with criminal mischief after officials said he threw white paint over a section of the mural on Sunday morning.

The suspect began using his hands to smear the paint across the mural shortly after 10am, NYPD detective Carrie Reilly told CNN.

The Black Lives Matter mural — a project Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered after a similar painting was unveiled on the streets leading up to the White House — has become a controversial flashpoint on the city’s iconic Fifth Avenue.

While some have celebrated the show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement amid nationwide anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, others — including Black Lives Matter activists — have lambasted the project as performative, instead calling for critical police reform.

President Donald Trump also described the painting as a “symbol of hate”, drawing significant blowback from his critics.

There have been at least four reported incidents in which the New York mural was defaced in apparent acts of opposition to the project. The New York City police department has meanwhile paid officers overtime to protect the mural, according to reports.

One man was seen dumping a can of red paint in the middle of the mural in mid-July, forcing the city’s Department of Transportation to scrub the painting clean.

The mayor condemned the vandalism in a statement that said the Black Lives Matter movement “is more than words, and it can’t be undone”.

Other Black Lives Matter murals across the country have faced similar vandalism as protests continued over the death of Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who was killed after a white police officer was caught on camera kneeling on his neck.

Earlier this month, a man and woman seen painting over another Black Lives Matter mural in California were charged with a hate crime, as well as a violation of civil rights, vandalism, and possession of tools to commit vandalism, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

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