Man, 70, accused of vandalizing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ art in Edmonds

The Edmonds resident, 70, could face hate crime charges for painting over a teen’s art at Civic Park.

EDMONDS — An Edmonds man may be charged with a hate crime for vandalizing artwork displaying the message, “I Can’t Breathe,” in big red letters on a fence at Civic Park, police said Thursday.

The suspect, 70, is accused of using black paint to erase the first “T” in the slogan that has become a common refrain at Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

The city-sanctioned art was created by Edmonds teenager Christabel Jamison, who has African American heritage.

Hours after the vandalism was reported, officers identified a suspect and went to his home. They found both his car and his personal appearance matched descriptions given by witnesses, police said. Additionally, the suspect “made statements against their self interest,” said Sgt. Josh McClure, a police spokesman.

“We know it’s the right person,” he said.

The man’s name has not been made public.

Now, police have referred reports to prosecutors recommending he be charged with malicious harassment, a hate crime. In Washington state, malicious harassment is a class C felony.

“Over the last several months our community has been tested in so many ways,” Police Chief Jim Lawless said in a news release. “This is just another example of our community working with us to support our mission. We value that relationship and will never take it for granted.”

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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