Red paint and a sticky black tar was found Wednesday morning splattered over a pro-police “Back the Blue” mural outside Tampa Police Department headquarters, Fox News reported.
About 10 p.m. Tuesday, an unknown person wearing all black was seen on camera getting out of a black vehicle and pouring an unknown substance on the mural, it appeared to be tar, Tampa’s Fox 13 reported.
A few hours later at 12:30am, a second person spray painted “F–k 12” and “BLM” in red paint on the police department’s door, as well as poured paint on the mural.
The mural painted without the city’s permission, Saturday was organized by the online groups Back the Blue Florida and Community Patriots Tampa. Mayor Jane Castor later released a statement welcoming the mural as a tribute honoring law enforcement’s service.
The defacement came as no surprise given the level of hostility against law enforcement in recent months, Back the Blue Florida said in a statement released to Fox News. The mural attracted attention on social media and criticized for being difficult to read and ugly.
“The area has been held hostage under a reign of mob violence since early 2020 and police morale had plummeted,” the group’s statement said. “Police officers have been victimized, attacked, and even ambushed but the tide is turning.”
Kelli Campbell, an organizer of “Back the Blue Florida,” told Fox 13 that Castor had given verbal approval “in front of hundreds of law enforcement officers.”
On Wednesday, volunteers came out to repaint the mural, but a spokesperson from Tampa Police Department said in an email that they were stopped and told they needed a permit.
Chief Brian Dugan later released a statement that said murals painted in the city roadway need to be approved. “We will continue to work with any group to make sure their First Amendment rights are heard,” Dugan said.
“This is a support to law enforcement, and we should have the right to exercise our First Amendment right and show support,” said Kristen Krutz, 36, a Tampa resident who organized the mural’s creation. “We believe in law enforcement. We want law enforcement in our cities. We don’t want to defund the police. That’s what this is about.”
Local Black Lives Matter activists said it felt like a retaliation to the movement and its murals.