Man charged with hate crime for tampering with BLM wall mural in Albany


ALBANY – Police arrested a 43-year-old Albany man who they said degraded the Black Lives Matter pavement mural on Lark Street on Thursday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. when he painted it in the bomb with letters and a symbol associated with a white supremacist hate group.

The man identified by police as Ian Rawlinson has been charged with fourth degree criminal mischief as a hate crime, officials said in a press release. He is due to appear before a judge in an Albany criminal court for arraignment on Friday morning.

Photos published on Twitter by the Albany Police Department showed the letters “KKK” and what appears to be a spray painted white cross over part of the thick, bright yellow “Black Lives Matter” lettering. The triple K is the widely recognized acronym of the Ku Klux Klan and a white cross is one of the emblems of the group.

Steve Smith, the department’s public information officer, said officers responding “quickly located the suspect nearby on Madison Avenue.”

Shawn Young, co-founder of All of Us, a black-led racial justice community action group, said the vandalism was “a shame to see” but “not surprising.”

“As serious as (vandalism) is, racism is not just about an individual act,” he said. “It involves things that are steeped in culture and the more we continue to ignore it, the more these explicit acts of racism will occur.”

Jamaica Miles, another co-founder of the group, said people acting in this manner have been seen throughout history.

“It reminds me that we have such a long way to go to change the world we live in, so there is no such blatant hatred against any group,” she added.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the painting of KKK on the mural was “clearly disturbing” and certainly a “racially motivated crime”.

She said that by the time she arrived at the scene, a police officer parked her car over the graffiti because it was so offensive, a move she described as “thoughtful.”

Sheehan said the General Service Department cleaned up the graffiti. Although Sheehan noted that the incident is a “racially motivated crime,” she said she was not yet sure what the city was facing because those in the mural at the time of the incident told him that the person may have mental health or addiction issues. .

“It doesn’t reflect what we think of our city as a place of diversity and welcome,” Sheehan said. “The speed with which this issue has been addressed shows how much we all in municipal government believe there is no place for it. Hate in the city of Albany.”

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