A 49-year-old Fairwood man believed to be harassing and threatening artists who created a community mural in the Cascade Benson Hill area, has been arrested and booked into jail for harassment and malicious mischief, according to a release from Renton Police Department.
The mural features the words “Community is…” and is intended to foster an idea that community is diverse, inclusive and loving, according to a post shared on social media from one of the mural artists. The artists were also adding interracial hands to the mural. As they worked on the mural on Sept. 29, a man stopped in his car, raised a pistol and pointed it at the group, yelling “All lives matter.”
The artists believe that same man had driven by multiple times before, yelling other phrases and “all lives matter” at them leading up to the incident.
On Oct. 13, the mural was defaced by the words “Trump,” “LAM” and “BOO.” Police discovered the night before the defacing, someone defaced a Fairwood pet store window with “LAM.” Thanks to that investigation, officers were able to identify the man involved in the firearm threatening.
This man wasn’t the only one to yell at the artists, a Renton police officer controlling traffic at the mural on SE Petrovitsky Road on Oct. 9 witnessed a driver stop and say something to one of the artists, who she said yelled an expletive at her several times. That case was unrelated to the suspect in the gun incident, according to an investigation from Renton police. People had also complained to the city about the hands on the mural.
“Representation in art is crucial. It is deeply important that we represent the diversity of our communities and lift up the beauty and strength in us coming together,” the Facebook post reads. “We must continue to examine where racism exists within our bodies, our families, our communities and our beliefs and dismantle it. We must continue to on this road of healing. Our collective survival depends on it.”
The mural was commissioned by the city and paid for with grant funding from the Renton Municipal Arts Commission. More information on the mural project is available at MariShibuya.com/benson-mural-project.