Downtown Tampa’s un-permitted “Back The Blue” mural was spray painted last night, and three arrests were made, says the Tampa Police Department.
According to TPD, on Tuesday night at around 11 p.m, four people were seen spray painting “graffiti” on the illegal mural, which is located directly in front of the downtown Police Headquarters on Madison Street and Franklin Street.
Local television station WTSP, reports that the words “BLM” and “PIGS” were written on the mural.
Police officers responded and detained eight individuals. After reviewing video footage, officers determined four of them committed “criminal mischief on the road way by defacing the road.” One suspect was released on the scene and given a notice to appear in court, because they were a minor. The other three suspects were over 18 years of age.
All three arrest reports say they “knowingly, intentionally and willfully spray painted graffiti” and caused approximately $200 in damage.
Besides being a national joke, the “Back the Blue” mural (also known as the “Bock the Blub” mural), has caused a significant amount of unrest in Tampa.
Last weekend, Tampa police officers arrested protesters also on criminal mischief charges, after “Several individuals were seen throwing paint along a sidewalk at Curtis Hixon Park.” Photos shot by CL contributor Dave Decker showed red, yellow, orange, green and blue paint splashed on a walkway running north to south across the park. In multiple videos shared on social media, detained protesters could be heard asking “What am I being detained for?”
And, last week, someone allegedly spilled paint and tar on the mural, says TPD. The department has since opened a criminal investigation, but has yet to make an arrest for the organizers who illegally shutdown an entire city block and painted the mural in the first place.
City of Tampa Marketing and Communications Director Ashley Bauman told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that Mayor Jane Castor “didn’t give approval written or verbally” for the “Back the Blue” mural.
However, earlier this week TPD spokesperson Jamel Lanee said that her department was told that the “Back the Blue” mural was in fact approved, and when asked by CL who told TPD it was approved, she said “this is all being investigated.”
One of the mural organizers, Kristen Krutz, previously told the Tampa Bay Times that they knew the mural didn’t have a permit, but decided to go through with it anyway because Tampa has Black Lives Matter murals “all over the city.”
“The reason why we decided to proceed without a permit is because Black Lives Matter has murals all over the city that say Black Lives Matter, and they were not permitted,” Krutz said to the paper.
However, Tampa’s BLM murals were in fact approved by the city, and they were part of Castor’s Art on the Block program.
Republished with permission from Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.