Anti-cop graffiti crops up in town

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Anti-cop graffiti crops up in townOn Sunday morning, Ridgecrest Police Officers and private property owners arose to find anti-cop graffiti scrawled in nearly a dozen places around town.

Based on the timing of a Black Lives Matter march the previous day, and the inclusion of the “BLM” slogan in many of the points of vandalism, many residents connected the graffiti to the members who participated in the rally (see related story, this page.)

“I don’t have any reason to connect this to the rally,” said RPD Chief Jed McLaughlin. He said that graffiti is not a new challenge for local law enforcement.

“My suspicion is that someone took advantage of the situation to feed their addiction to graffiti. This was just an opportunity, and the perpetrator changed the tagging message to reflect what was happening — and potentially deflect the blame for it.”

He noted that the same graffiti appeared again Wednesday morning in local parks and on other surfaces.

RPD reached out to local businesses that had surveillance in the areas that were tagged to see if detectives could find any leads to the identity of the perpetrator.

Property owner Aaron Podell pulled up his feed and found a white SUV driving near Burger King (adjacent to one of the sites that was hit Sunday) at 4 a.m. when the restaurant was still closed.

“We looked at that, but it turns out that was an employee of Burger King. So whoever is doing this appears to be very sly about sticking to alleyways and avoiding getting caught on camera,” said McLaughlin.

BLM rally organizer Kaycee Kohut was quick to call out the perpetrator for the “gross act of vandalism.”

“Quite a few wonderful people in our community really came together to help clean it up. I did receive some backlash, as some people blamed Saturday’s protest for sparking the act.”

However, she said that people who participated in the protest were among those who showed up to help scrub spray paint off the walls at LeRoy Jackson Park. “People can try and point the blame, but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. And I didn’t see any of them out there scrubbing next to us.”

Kathlyn Metonia, who co-hosted the event with Kohut, similarly expressed opposition to the graffiti. “Kaycee and I have advocated and promoted peaceful assembly.”

She did express disgust for those who were more offended by the vandalism than by the murder of George Floyd, which inspired the local demonstration.

“I came across a comment on Facebook from a woman about the graffiti that proved my point,” said Metonia.

“She said, ‘Anyone that does that is so sick they should be wrapped in a straight jacket and put in a rubber room for life!’ We need to put that kind of disgust and outrage into holding law enforcement officers accountable for killing or using violent, excessive force against unarmed humans, specifically Black humans.”

Pictured: Graffiti mars City Hall near Freedom Park. — Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2020-06-12