Tampa ‘Back the Blue’ mural defaced again, 3 people arrested

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Police have arrested three people for allegedly spray-painting a “Back the Blue” mural in front of the police headquarters in downtown Tampa.

The incident happened around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

With spray paint in hand, police say a group of people claiming to support Black Lives Matter took over the mural and defaced the street with graphic pictures and vulgar language. “BLM” was written over “BTB” letters.

Officers arrested Alexander Drummond, Seth Raigoza, Emily Gabaree, and detained an underage teen.

“They swarmed, about 20 of them and they were rude,”said Colin Vatter a friend of the accused vandals.

The mural has been at the center of controversy ever since it was painted by the group Back the Blue Florida. It appears they received verbal consent, but no permit.

“People are being treated incorrectly by police officers. Not every police officer obviously, but it’s a message that needs to be spread and it needs to be done right,” Vatter said.

All three adults arrested last night are facing criminal mischief charges. The underage teen was released back to her parents, and police say she will have to attend a juvenile program.

“For sure, there’s definitely a double standard. That, I doubt they were prosecuted at all for putting that down. They did illegally, and they never caught them. They never did anything,” Vatter added.

This is not the first time the mural has been defaced. Exactly a week ago Tuesday night, tar was poured onto letters painted on the street.


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