2 Washington men connected to Patriot Front charged for vandalizing Olympia Pride mural
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Two Washington men now face new charges in connection to the white nationalist group ‘Patriot Front,’ accused of vandalizing a rainbow Pride mural in Olympia.
The two were also arrested last month and charged with attempting to riot at a Coeur d’Alene Pride festival back in June.
The Griswold building used to stand on a now-empty lot on Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia. Developers have plans for apartments, but before it was torn down, neighbors erected a message of love. The mural read "Respect and Love Olympia" and stood proud, until vandals defaced it in Oct. 2021.
"They sent a message [saying] we’re not part of the community, we sent a message [that] we’re here to restore it," said Anna Schlecht with Unity in the Community.
Schlecht is with just one of the community groups that built the mural, and adds that the neighbors scrambled to repaint it after learning it had been trashed.
The evidence is online—the clip was posted to Twitter and was part of a leak of clips and messages obtained and by the nonprofit social justice group ‘Unicorn Riot.’ Its footage allegedly recorded by members of Patriot Front themselves, showing a group of masked men slipping through a cut fence and spray-painting over the mural. The video may be just one piece of evidence Olympia city prosecutors used to identify suspects, who are now charged with aiding and abetting graffiti, a misdemeanor.
Patriot Front made headlines in June after Coeur d’Alene Police busted dozens of men and charged them with attempting to riot at the town’s Pride festival.
In all, 31 were arrested and charged, and five of the men involved are from Washington State. Colton Brown and Spencer Simpson faced charges in June, now they face new charges in Olympia.
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Brown and Simpson will be arraigned Wednesday. Olympia’s prosecuting office said law enforcement are working to identify more suspects.
Schlecht said she wants the accused to pony up restitution, to pay for what volunteers covered twice already.