Park City police clear person in Black Lives Matter mural vandalism, likely leaving it a cold case
The Park City Police Department in recent days determined a person of interest in the vandalism of a large Black Lives Matter mural on Main Street and other artworks on the street at the same time was not responsible for the damage, increasing the likelihood the case will not be solved.
The person of interest is a man from Davis County and was identified shortly after the vandalism. The murals were created on the Main Street asphalt on Independence Day and vandalized just days later. Several days after the vandalism, a Park City police officer stopped a vehicle late at night and found the driver matched the description of someone seen on surveillance footage from a Main Street business the night of the vandalism. Darwin Little, a police lieutenant, said perpetrators sometimes return to the scene of a crime to observe the location afterward, something that influenced the police to investigate the person of interest.
The police never arrested or charged the person of interest. Little said detectives interviewed the man in late July or early August. He told the police he was not in Park City on the night of the vandalism. He also told the police he had demonstrated in Salt Lake City in support of the Black Lives Matter movement or in protest of the police killing of George Floyd that sparked widespread demonstrations across the U.S. The police shortly after the person was identified said he once worked for a paint contractor and estimated enough paint was used in the vandalism to cover 2,000 square feet of the Main Street asphalt.
The police obtained a search warrant and further permission from the person for the GPS data from the man’s mobile phone. Little said the information showed the phone was not in Park City at the time of the vandalism and the police do not believe the person was in the city that night.
“He’s no longer a person of interest,” Little said, describing that the man cooperated with the police throughout the investigation.
The Black Lives Matter mural on a highly visible section of Main Street stretched 300 feet in length and had 14-foot-tall letters. An artist from Vineyard created the work alongside a series of other murals with social justice themes that were put on the asphalt that day. The murals quickly became polarizing and the Black Lives Matter mural especially received attention. The vandal or vandals covered the word “Black” with gray paint and covered a clenched fist symbol that stood for the letter “i” in the word “Lives.” The artist later returned to Main Street for repairs and slight alterations. Two of the others were targeted at the same time as the one that read “Black Lives Matter” was vandalized.
The Police Department had few leads at the outset before developing the one involving the man from Davis County. Little said the Davis County man was the only lead the police developed.
The lieutenant said the Police Department intends to shortly move the case to inactive status, meaning the vandalism will be considered to be a cold case. Under that classification, the police will no longer actively investigate the case. If new leads are developed, such as the emergence of additional surveillance footage, the police would follow them.
“I don’t like to inactivate any case,” Little said, adding, “It’s discouraging we can’t solve it.”
Anybody with information about the case may contact the Police Department at 435-615-5500 or through the department’s tip line at 435-615-5555.
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The sculpture first resided along Main Street and was moved to the intersection of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive years later.