Atlanta

Police searching for suspect they say vandalized rainbow crosswalks twice in 2 days

ATLANTA — Atlanta’s famed rainbow crosswalks have once again become the target of vandalism.

Shortly before 2 a.m. on Friday morning, crews found swastikas and homophobic language spray painted on the crosswalks at Piedmont Rd. NE and 10th St. NE.

Atlanta police told Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach that the same suspect who vandalized the crosswalks on Friday morning took his spray paint over to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta just a couple of blocks away.

The Federal Reserve was also tagged with a swastika and words on the base of a statue outside of the building.

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Interim Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum spoke with Channel 2 Action News Friday Morning.

He says they believe the suspect from Friday morning’s incident is the same suspect who vandalized the same crosswalks on Wednesday night.

He adds that they believe the suspect is “close by” and they are “aggressively” investigating.

On Wednesday, a swastika appeared on the rainbow crosswalks. Atlanta Department of Transportation crews were able to quickly remove the hate symbol.

“The message to this citizens of this city is this: We do not tolerate hate in whatever neighborhood it arrives in and whatever group it may be targeted against. We’re gonna find them and we’re gonna hold them accountable,” Interim Chief Schierbaum on Friday morning.

The City of Atlanta also released a statement in relation to the vandalism on Wednesday night.

“Atlanta Police immediately notified the Mayor’s Office of the matter, then ATLDOT scrambled a crew—in the rain—to remove the disgusting act of vandalism from our street. We thank the women and men of ATLDOT and APD for erasing the hate that has no place in our city in a such a swift and efficient manner.”

—  Michael Smith, Press Secretary

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“It’s unfortunate that things like that still happen especially in a neighborhood that’s so pride friendly,” Midtown resident Kristena Heartwell told Channel 2′s Veronica Griffin.

St. Mark United Methodist Church in midtown, which hangs a pride flag, was also the target of vandals earlier this week.

Spokespeople with the church told Channel 2′s Justin Carter that police told them the suspect who spray painted Wednesday night’s swastika on the rainbow crosswalks and the person who threw a brick through several windows at St. Mark UMC are the same person.

Plexiglass protecting the 100-year-old stained glass window of the church was also hit with a brick. Luckily, it kept the stained glass from being harmed.

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Earlier this year, the rainbow crosswalks were defaced by apparent street racers doing doughnuts in the intersection leaving the area covered in tire marks on multiple occasions.