When a California couple was charged with a “hate crime” this week for painting over “Black Lives Matter” on a street in Martinez, in the San Francisco Bay area, a number of observers (like LU’s Ben Bowles) were skeptical.
A hate crime? True, the two apparently weren’t acting within the law in the case; the original taggers who painted the words “Black Lives Matter” had obtained permission to paint letters on the public street, whereas the couple who followed that up with the black paint was without authorization.
But to call the act a “hate crime” seemed like, well, one of those bridges too far we’ve seen so many of in recent days.
On the other hand, the California couple was at least deliberately doing something there’s an ordinance against: i.e., committing vandalism against a permitted decoration of public property.
In West Vancouver, B.C., even that excuse for the indignant intervention of law enforcement is missing.
On Wednesday, West Vancouver Police put out a tweet asking for community help in tracking down someone who had defaced an LGBT street decoration – with tire marks.
Investigators would like to speak with the driver responsible for defacing a recently installed Pride crosswalk at 16th St. and Esquimalt Ave. If you have information, please call 604-925-7300. https://t.co/ywkNR4DMAv pic.twitter.com/ViW0ZxcxYN
— West Vancouver PD (@WestVanPolice) July 8, 2020
The police already had a big head start on the case. They had the perpetrator in a dark Ford Mustang, in video from Tuesday, making a – well, a thoroughly non-inclusive turn at the corner onto the cross street. In the process of making the turn, the driver in the Mustang left a telltale curved tire mark, right through the rainbow striping painted in the crosswalk on one side of the intersection next to the stop bar.
The police knew they had a hardened hate-vandal on their hands. “This is very upsetting,” said Constable Kevin Goodmurphy.
They gave a description of the event: “On July 7, 2020 at 4:04 pm staff inside the police station heard a loud and sustained tire squealing outside. When officers took a closer look, they discovered that someone had just left tire marks across a portion of the crosswalk, at the intersection of 16th St and Esquimalt Ave.”
The Mustang’s driver didn’t stick around to assess his handiwork: “The suspect vehicle left the area at a high rate of speed and was not located.”
Goodmurphy lamented: “For whatever reason, this person has chosen to leave a gesture of hate on a crosswalk that stands for the exact opposite.”
Fortunately, the local community stepped up without delay. It might be thought a bit difficult to distinguish one Mustang driver who peels out from an intersection at high speed from another, but the citizens of West Vancouver were up to the task.
Crosswalk update: We have identified the driver of the vehicle involved in the incident.
Thank you for those who have come forward with information.
— West Vancouver PD (@WestVanPolice) July 9, 2020
It’s probably not worth pointing out that if police were defunded, there would be no one to render this kind of dedicated service to the community.
In ordinary circumstances, the tire-squealing turn by the Mustang might be called a sinister development. But clearly, that doesn’t exactly fit this situation. The West Vancouver Police knew a hate crime when they saw one, because they had the driver leaving the intersection in such a hurry on video, making a right turn.
(H/t: The Post-Millennial)