BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — An investigation is underway in Boynton Beach to find a person responsible for defacing a pride mural in Boynton Beach and it was all caught on camera.
The police department released surveillance video Tuesday.
"I think it's sad these types of acts happen still," Dante Brown, with Inspire Recovery, said. "But acts like this remind us as a LGBTQIA+ community we still need to persevere, we still need to be visible. It kind of ignites our community to want to take more action."
Boynton Beach police are searching for the motorcyclist who left at least three black tire marks over the mural along East Ocean Avenue and Northeast First Street.
"I would consider it a hate crime. I think hate can manifest in various ways and unfortunately, this particular individual chose this community," Brown said.
"I really hope it isn't a hate crime," Amy Awad. who grew up in Boynton Beach, said. "I think it was just them being silly and showing off trying to make a really cool video."
"This was a message to the community but here's my message back to them, we will find you, we will bring justice," Boynton Beach Mayor Ty Penserga said. "This will not diminish who we are or our joy and our pride in the city."
The Pride mural was unveiled in June 2021.
According to a Boynton Beach police report and surveillance video, the incident happened at about 1 a.m. on June 2.
The report said a neighbor heard screeching and saw the motorcyclist wearing dark clothing and a helmet and riding a dark motorcycle.
The act is believed to be intentional as the motorcyclist stops and takes a picture of the damage.
"In all likelihood, they must've shared this with their friends or some social media platform," Penserga said. "And so one way that the community can help us is to look on social media."
"This happened earlier in the month. Some people are concerned that they're just now hearing about this, can you explain why?" WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked Penserga.
"It's so important that we respond responsibly and that our police department and our detectives be given the space and the time to do their jobs," said Penserga.
Penserga said they held off on releasing information as he was worried that the person responsible would leave town.
"A message to the people who might be saying this is just tire marks, it'll wash off, it's not permanent. What's your message to them?" Lopez asked.
"Listen, look at the timing of when this happened. This happened at the beginning of Pride month. This was an act of hate," Penserga said.
He said crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have been growing nationally and locally.
A Pride mural in Delray Beach was also vandalized in 2021.
The man responsible was charged with criminal mischief and reckless driving.
Man who defaced Pride crosswalk in Delray Beach pleads guilty
"We need to send a message that you can't do this here, not in Boynton Beach, not in Palm Beach County," Penserga said.
If you recognize the driver or if you've seen the picture posted online, you are asked to contact the Boynton Beach police non-emergency line at 561-732-8116.
"Thankfully, no one was harmed in these acts and, hopefully, we can continue to move forward," Brown said.
Boynton Beach police said the person responsible could face charges of criminal mischief.
"Even if it's not a hate crime and it's just a video, I think for the safety of others, there should be repercussions," Awad said.