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Upstate New York Man Arrested, Charged with Hate Crime After Witnesses Say He Vandalized BLM Mural

An Albany, New York, man has been arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime after authorities say he vandalized a Black Lives Matter street mural.

Witnesses reported Ian Rawlinson, 43, to Albany police on Thursday, Sept. 16, for defacing the Lark Street mural. When officers arrived, Rawlinson had already left the scene, but they saw that he’d spray-painted miscellaneous racist symbols, including a burning cross and “KKK” in white paint.

He was apprehended near the scene of the crime on Madison Avenue and was arraigned in court on Friday, Sept. 17.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the painting of KKK on the mural was “clearly disturbing” and certainly a “racially motivated crime,” the Times-Union reported.

“It does not reflect what we think of our city, as being a place of diversity and welcoming,” Sheehan stated. “The speed with which this issue was addressed speaks to how all of us in city government think there is no place for this hatred in the city of Albany.”

The Albany Police Department released a statement about the case: “43-year-old Ian Rawlinson of Albany has been charged with Criminal Mischief 4th as a hate crime. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Albany Criminal Court.”

According to Sheehan, the department of general services has cleaned the graffiti. She also added that when she visited the scene, witnesses told her that they thought Rawlinson “might have had mental health or substance abuse issues.”

The Lark Street Black Lives Matter mural was created in June 2020, organized by the group In Our Own Voices, and was repainted in August 2021.

“We wanted to focus on making sure justice … that we are still in the fight for liberation,” Tandre R. LaGrone, CEO of the group In Our Own Voices, told CBS 6 Albany last month. “Last year, we did the sketching, and we used some city funding to get it done…but it was spearheaded by In Our Own Voices. This year, we raised and used-donated donations of the paint to get this done.”

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