Outrage as Scooter-Riding Teens Could Face 10-Year Prison Terms For Leaving Scuff Marks on ‘Gay Pride Crosswalk’

It’s the third time vandals have attacked the rainbow-colored memorial: first it was with paint, then fire, now rubber.

Courtroom Feed
Ruslan Turko, 19, is shown during a court appearance after being arrested for vandalizing a gay pride crosswalk at Spokane, Washington. Courtroom Feed

Three teenagers in Washington state face possible 10-year prison sentences after being arrested for leaving marks on a gay pride street mural with Lime electric scooters, prompting criticism from conservative activists on social media. 

Spokane police officers arrested the three teenagers – two minors and one 19-year-old, Ruslan Turko – last week after callers to 911 claimed they were “causing damage to the newly painted Pride mural.”

One of the suspects “yelled obscenities” before leaving the area, police said, and officers “observed widespread damage as black scuff marks consistent with scooter wheels were observed across the entirety of the mural.” 

Spokane’s NBC affiliate, KHQ, reported that one of the youths called someone a “f–g f–t,” using an anti gay slur, after the Good Samaritan asked them to stop their vandalous acts.

The scooter attack happened just hours after community members had finished a $15,000 restoration of the mural, which in May had been vandalized by miscreants who, by cover of night, poured a flammable liquid on the mural and set it ablaze, causing significant damage.  

The gay pride crosswalk at Spokane has been vandalized at least three times in the last year. KREM

Last October, the mural was also attacked when an anonymous vandal or vandals poured paint on it.

Mr. Turko was booked into jail for malicious mischief of the first degree and the two other suspects were booked and released for the same charge, police said in a statement.

The Spokane Police Department’s communications manager, Julie Humphreys, tells the Sun that the 19-year-old was released the day after his arrest. “We don’t know the status of the juveniles, nor could we provide that because they are underage,” she adds. 

Despite calls for severe punishment from some community members, the defacement cannot be charged as a hate crime. A new state law making defacing public property a hate crime did not go into effect until a few hours after the vandalism incident. 

Prosecutors asked for bond to be set at $15,000 — reflecting the cost of restoring the mural — but the judge released Mr. Turko on his own recognizance and told him not to go near the crosswalk or the other suspects, KREM News reported.

Police released these photos of the damage, which can be seen by looking closely at this picture. Spokane Police Department
Another view of the damaged gay pride crosswalk. Spokane Police Department

“We’re not going to sit by as we watch people deliberately commit a hate crime right in the middle of downtown,” one woman who witnessed the teenagers riding their scooters over the mural, Kaylee Gaines McGee, told the station. “It sucks to be reminded in moments like this that there are still people out there that have hate in their hearts for other people. 

Yet, others are pushing back against the prosecution of the teenagers and the charges that could lead to up to a decade in prison and fines of $20,000. 

“Spokane has allowed the homeless to set up drug encampments on the sidewalks, but prosecutes teens for skidding their scooters on an intersection,” a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Christopher Rufo, wrote on X. 

“The symbol is so revered officials placed it on the ground on a public road,” another observer on X, Andy Ngo, wrote. “And prosecutors are seeking to punish those who leave tire skid markings on the street.”

Forty eight hours after the scooter incident, a local TV reporter saw more kids on scooters, appearing to try to vandalize the crosswalk again.

The Spokane gay pride crosswalk, already attacked three times, continues to come under attack. Only 48 hours after the scooter vandalism, the KHQ reporter doing a piece on the story saw two teens on scooters, trying to damage the mural, again.

The brouhaha swirling around the Spokane crosswalk comes several months after a Florida teenager, Dylan Brewer, made national headlines for performing “burnouts” with his truck — spinning his wheels to produce smoke and create black skid marks — over a similar LGBTQ streetscape at Delray Beach. 

A legal defense fund for Mr. Brewer raised more than $35,000 as hundreds of donors said his actions were a form of free speech protest and said it was an example of selective prosecutions. 

“This was a peaceful protest, unlike BLM that burns down cities and destroys stores, federal buildings and statues and never get jailed!,” one donor wrote. 

Dylan Brewer, 19, has been charged with felony
mischief for doing ‘burnouts’ with his pickup truck on a Gay Pride-themed crosswalk in Delray Beach, Florida. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office / Delray Beach Police Department

Mr. Brewer was charged with felony criminal mischief of more than $1,000 and reckless driving, as the Sun reported, and court documents indicate the case disposition is set for July 10. 

It’s still “very early” in the case, Mr. Brewer’s attorney, Anthony Sabatini, tells the Sun in an email. 

“The charges are ridiculous and false,” he writes. “The state needs to drop them all immediately.” 

It’s not the only Pride mural to be damaged in the state of Florida recently. In May, a “progressive pride” street mural was damaged as two vehicles left marks on it, police said. One involved a truck that “accelerated through the mural” and another incident involved a vehicle doing donuts over the mural. 

Mr. Brewer is accused of doing ‘burnouts’ with his truck on the Gay Pride mural, leaving tire marks. Delray Beach Police Department

“This is considered a criminal mischief felony offense because it will cost the City of St. Petersburg $1,100 to restore the street mural,” city police said in May. “The City plans to restore the mural in time for Pride month festivities.” 

A representative of St. Petersburg’s police department confirmed to the Sun that no arrests have yet been made in that incident, and the investigation is still open. 

The New York Sun

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