Spokane officials condemn hate at press conference after Pride mural is vandalized

The Spokane Fire Department received a call at around 1:15 a.m. on Thursday regarding an incident at the intersection of Howard Street and Spokane Falls Boulevard. Upon arrival at the scene, the department promptly alerted the police, and together, the agencies were able to recover two buckets of “flammable material,” as stated in a press release.

The criminal act took place just over two weeks into the commencement of Pride Month.

Police are currently conducting an investigation into the incident, treating it as arson. However, it is worth mentioning that under recent amendments to state law, this kind of damage to publicly owned property will soon be eligible for prosecution as a hate crime starting next month. This information was stated in the release.

“I am deeply disturbed by the continuous defacement of Spokane’s Pride flag mural on Spokane Falls Boulevard and Howard Street,” expressed Mayor Lisa Brown in a heartfelt statement. She emphasized that this act is not only vandalism but also a manifestation of hatred that contradicts the city’s core principles of equality, acceptance, and embracing diversity. Mayor Brown unreservedly condemned such behavior and expressed her anticipation for the responsible individuals to be held accountable for their actions. Addressing the LGBTQ+ community, she assured them of her unwavering support in the fight against all forms of discrimination and prejudice.”

Spokane has a number of LGBTQ+ pride murals that have been painted on roadways throughout the city. Last October, three of these murals were defaced, with some also being vandalized during the previous summer. This information was reported by Spokane’s KXLY.

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City Council President Betsy Wilkerson, joined by Councilmembers Zack Zappone and Paul Dillon, strongly denounced the recent act of vandalism during a press conference held on Friday.

Zappone emphasized that the amendments, which were previously discussed, will come into effect on June 6. The city is currently exploring methods to hold accountable individuals involved in such crimes and will consider the severity of the offense. Zappone stressed the importance of fostering a welcoming environment in Spokane, where hate has no place.

Dillon, who chairs the council’s Public Safety & Community Health Committee, highlighted how Thursday’s events served as a stark reminder of the increasing number of hate crimes, not just in Spokane but also throughout the region.

According to Dillon, the individuals responsible for the vandalism were not local children, indicating that the incident was a deliberate and organized attack. Dillon, who resides near another mural that has been defaced in the past, also mentioned that pride flags are frequently stolen in the vicinity.

“We are witnessing this targeting due to our community’s strong emphasis on safety and inclusion,” he stated proudly.

According to Wilkerson, the mural was recently painted and the vandals caused extensive damage. Repairing this damage will require a significant amount of time and resources. She expressed her apologies on behalf of the city and acknowledged the pain felt by the residents. Wilkerson emphasized the need for the city to progress rather than regress.

The plea from the speaker was clear: “If you have any information regarding the incident, please reach out to the police department. We urge you not to stay silent and become an accomplice to these hateful acts. It is not only dangerous and degrading, but also a criminal offense.”

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