A man suspected of defacing several downtown Riverside murals — many of them depicting Black civil rights figures — was arrested and accused of vandalism and committing a hate crime, police said Saturday.
According to the Riverside Police Department, 49-year-old Paul Phillip Powers was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center on five counts of felony vandalism, one count of misdemeanor vandalism and one count of misdemeanor hate crime vandalism.
On Nov. 2, officers received a report that a line of black spray paint had been drawn through a half-block long mural along Mission Inn Avenue in downtown Riverside depicting several civil rights leaders.
Officers later discovered that smaller murals nearby had also been vandalized, including one of George Floyd, the Black man killed during an arrest in Minneapolis whose death in May inspired months of protests for police reform and racial justice.
The buildings that were defaced include the Fox Performing Arts Center, the Riverside Food Lab and the Civil Rights Institute building.
Police said a hate symbol was also spray painted on a mural at the Mission Heritage Plaza construction site.
Investigators identified Powers, a Riverside resident, as the suspected vandal and he was arrested Thursday on Second Street, according to jail records.
“Due to the current bail schedule for non-violent offenses, Mr. Powers was released from jail on a `notice to appear’ citation,” said Officer Ryan Railsback, a police department spokesman.
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