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Two men charged for allegedly vandalizing a Black Lives Matter mural in California

By Amanda Jackson, CNN

Two men are facing charges after a Black Lives Matter street mural in Santa Cruz, California, was vandalized, officials said.

A picture of the damage provided by the Santa Cruz Police Department showed black tire marks across yellow “Black Lives Matter” lettering on a street.

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.

“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,” Santa Cruz Police Chief Andrew Mills said during the news conference.

The vandalism occurred Friday evening and an investigation began after a report of vandalism the next morning, according to a news release from the police department.

Police said they obtained video of the incident that showed a vehicle “intentionally ‘burning out’ and applying tire tread marks across the length of the mural.”

“This crime saddens me greatly,” Brenda Griffin, the NAACP’s local branch president, said in the news release. “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.”

The mural was approved by the city council after George Floyd’s death last year. More than 500 community volunteers helped paint the mural in September, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Mills said Bochat and Hagan were charged with felony vandalism and conspiracy. The two men were released on bail and will be back in court this week for their arraignment, according to Mills.

CNN was unable to determine if the men had legal representation to obtain a statement on their behalf. Mills added that police were “still working” the case as there appear to be other people involved.

During the Sunday news conference, Mills admonished members of the community who downplayed the crime as kids just fooling around.

“Shame on you,” Mills said. “This was meaningful to this community. And we will do everything within our power to make sure that those who did this are brought to justice.”

Mills called the vandalism “a substantial wound to members of our community.”

The city is working to repaint the mural as quickly as possible, City Manager Martín Bernal said Sunday.

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CNN’s Brisa Colon contributed to this report.

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