Santa Cruz BLM mural vandals may have to clean up own mess

Bay Area

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KRON) — Outside Santa Cruz City Hall, a huge Black Lives Matter mural is crossed out with dark tire marks, and the artist behind the mural wants vandals to clean up their own mess.

The Santa Cruz District Attorney’s Office charged Brandon Bochat, 20, of Santa Cruz, and Hagan Warner, 19, of Boulder Creek, with felony vandalism with hate crime enhancements.

According to investigators, Bochat and Warner took turns getting behind the wheel as they “peeled out” to deface the mural with tire tread marks on the evening of July 24.

Abi Mustapha shows tires marks etched into a Black Lives Matter mural. (Photo by Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The vandals recorded the incident on video and uploaded the footage on social media, said assistant district attorney Michael Mahan.

The artist behind the mural, Abi Mustapha, told Lookout Santa Cruz that she wants part of the vandals’ punishment to be fixing the mural.

“‘I’m going to be resilient in my own way, but you can go and fix your mess,” she told Lookout Santa Cruz.

“It’s more important that they clean it up and that the community sees them clean it up,” Mustapha said.

The District Attorney’s Office said it will consider pursuing Mustapha’s idea.

Abi Mustapha shows tires marks etched into a Black Lives Matter mural. (Photo by Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The mural was painted in September of 2020 and Santa Cruz was one of the first cities in America to approve creating a permanent Black Lives Matter mural.

The NAACP Santa Cruz County said the vandalism should not be shrugged off as “boys will be boys.”

“Acts like this should not be written off as innocent pranks. This crime should not be taken lightly,” the NAACP wrote.

Bochat and Warner pleaded not guilty. Their next court date is scheduled for Oct. 7.

Santa Cruz police took an aerial photo of the tire marks. (SCPD)
Hagan Warner and Brandon Bochat

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