The Black Lives Matter mural outside Trump Tower in Midtown was just four days old when a nefarious vandal showed up on Monday afternoon to deface it.
City officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, and civil rights leaders had painted the block-long mural on 5th Avenue, on July 9 just outside the skyscraper that then-developer Donald Trump built nearly 40 years ago. The mural meant to deliver a message of equality, solidarity and justice to President Trump and the city at large.
But that message was apparently lost on the vandal who splattered red paint all over the golden letters of the mural Monday afternoon.
According to law enforcement sources, the suspect — described as a man in a black shirt and hat — showed up at about 12:13 p.m. on July 13 dumped the paint across the words “Black Lives” and then ran from the scene along 56th Street.
Passing vehicles along 5th Avenue drove over the wet, red paint — inadvertently spreading it over the two words with tire tracks.
Crews came by quickly on Monday to clean up the vandalism, according to WABC-TV, closing a lane along 5th Avenue to get rid of the damage.
City officials have painted similar murals across the five boroughs in recent weeks following the start of the George Floyd protests. It followed the creation of a Black Lives Matter mural that Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered painted on a block-long stretch of 16th Street near the White House back in June.
Similar Black Lives Matter murals and messages that have popped up across America have been vandalized or destroyed in recent weeks. One couple in California who painted over one such mural in the city of Martinez was later arrested on hate crimes charges.
The Patrol Borough Manhattan North is investigating Monday’s incident outside Trump Tower. A law enforcement source said that it’s too early in the investigation to determine whether the vandalism could be considered a hate crime.
The mural vandalism occurred after a weekend of protests in Brooklyn and Queens in which “Back the Blue” pro-police supporters clashed with Black Lives Matter counter-protesters — which led to some volatile encounters.
When plans for the 5th Avenue mural surfaced on July 1, President Trump tweeted his opposition to it, claiming it was a stunt designed to antagonize police.