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Vt. police investigate defaced Black Lives Matter messages

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 6:26 AM EDT
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The Vermont State Police are investigating after three Black Lives Matter messages were defaced in Jericho and Underhill.

Police say the murals -- and the damage to them -- was discovered Monday within six miles of each other, although it's still not clear if they are connected.

It appears a driver burned out their vehicle tires over the words "Black Lives Matter" and "Black Trans Lives Matter" at murals on Pleasant Valley Road and Irish Settlement Road in Underhill. In the other incident on Browns Trace Road in Jericho, someone threw white and brown paint on the artwork.

Vermont State Police Capt. Garry Scott says although the art on the roads is technically vandalism, given the current racially charged climate in the country, they represent a driving force to create change.

"These conversations need to be had, and when someone defaces property like that, it can traumatize communities in ways as a white society we have never recognized. So, it's important we at least have the conversations and when someone is doing that, come to the table and then address what that means and how that can really hurt people in ways we never thought of," Scott said.

Police say they are still trying to figure out both who painted the murals and who defaced them. Charges could be brought, but it's more likely if any suspects are identified it will be handled using the restorative justice model.

Unlike the Black Lives Matter art on State Street in Montpelier, town officials in Underhill and Jericho say these paintings were never approved.

Underhill Selectboard Chair Dan Steinbauer says they are using the paintings as a catalyst for conversation about racial justice. They plan to leave time in each meeting to allow the community to discuss.

Members of the Jericho Selectboard have not responded to a WCAX request for a statement on the vandalism.

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