A man has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly defacing an Albany BLM pavement artwork.
Police arrested a 43-year-old Albany man on Thursday afternoon about 3:30 p.m. for allegedly defacing the Black Lives Matter pavement mural on Lark Street by spray-painting it with letters and a symbol linked with a white supremacist hate group.
According to a news release, the individual identified as Ian Rawlinson was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime. He is scheduled to appear before a judge in an Albany criminal court on Friday morning for arraignment.
The Albany Police Department shared photographs on Twitter depicting the letters "KKK" and what seems to be a cross spray-painted in white over a section of large, bright yellow "Black Lives Matter" lettering. The Ku Klux Klan's well recognized abbreviation is the triple K, and the group's logo is a white cross.
According to Steve Smith, the department's public relations officer, responding officers "suspects were soon discovered nearby on Madison Avenue."
Shawn Young, a co-founder of All of Us, a Black-led community action group for racial justice, said the graffiti was a "sad to witness," but "unsurprising."
“As heinous as the vandalism is, racism is not an isolated act,” he explained. "It involves culturally rooted issues, and the longer we ignore them, the more explicit acts of racism will occur."
Jamaica Miles, another co-founder of the group, stated that such behavior has occurred throughout history.
“It tells me that we still have a long way to go in terms of altering the world in which we live so that there is no such open hatred toward any group,” she continued.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan stated that the mural depicting the KKK was "obviously distressing" and undoubtedly a "racially motivated crime."
She stated that when she arrived to the site, a police officer had placed their car over the graffiti due to its unpleasant nature, a gesture she described as "considerate."
Sheehan stated that the graffiti has been removed by the department of general services. Although Sheehan stated that the event was a "racially motivated crime," she added that she is unsure what the city is dealing with at the moment because witnesses at the mural at the time indicated the individual may have had mental health or substance misuse issues.
"It does not reflect our city's image as a diverse and friendly community," Sheehan added. “The haste with which this matter was addressed demonstrates how all of us in municipal administration believe that this intolerance has no place in the city of Albany."