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Police investigate vandalism at 'Black Lives Matter' mural in Vermont

Police discovered about five gallons of motor oil spilled on one area of the mural.

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Montpelier and Vermont Capital Police are investigating an act of vandalism at the city's new Black Lives Matter mural on State Street.

According to Montpelier Police, spray paint was found tagged on the sidewalk near the the State House walkway. The graffiti included profanities, references to President Donald Trump and language alluding to Vermont's budget.

Less than a day earlier, hundreds of volunteers worked to write "Black Lives Matter" in bold yellow text in front of the State House.

Police discovered about five gallons of motor oil spilled on one area of the mural. The Montpelier fire department responded to the scene with a quick-dry agent and later brushed off the letters to avoid further damage to the mural.

Investigators said mud and dirt was placed on the road, partially covering one of the letters.

According to police, the spray paint did not directly refer to the "Black Lives Matter" mural.

"I think it makes the message even louder," said Noel Riby-Williams, a local activist who helped spearhead the mural project. "We need to focus more on black lives."

As word of the vandalism spread, community members flocked to the area to inspect the damage and stand with the Black Lives Matter message.

"It makes me feel so blessed to be in a community that outdoes the hate," said Mary Ann Songhurst.

"We'll be out here every day with paint to continue touching this up if we need to," said City Councilor Conor Casey.

Montpelier police released photos taken from area security cameras showing a man believed to be a suspect in the vandalism.

He is described as about 50 years old, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 170 pounds, with scruffy facial hair. The images show him wearing a dark colored brimmed hat, a dark, loose jacket and blue jeans.

Police said he may have been present at the mural painting the previous day.