Burlington Man Admits to Vandalizing Mural; Claims it Symbolizes White Supremacy

BURLINGTON, Vt. - A Burlington man admits to vandalizing a large mural in downtown Burlington. The perpetrator called it a non-violent protest as he claims the mural is a symbol of white supremacy.

The mural begins with a painting of Samuel de Champlain, a European explorer who settled in the valley in 1609.

"The entire 12,000 years of existence, civilization, history, contribution, culture, government of first nation people is completely left off of the mural," said Albert Petrarca.

On Monday, Petrarca says he spray painted the plaque next to the mural which helps identify different historical figures pictured in the mural.

"The philosophy is that anyone who is living and is still on this wall, we're asking you to disassociate yourself," explained Petrarca.

The Burlington man is a member of a newly formed coalition called 'Off the Wall' which right now only consists of a few people. They're calling on Burlington City arts, the Church Street Marketplace and Mayor Miro Weinberger to reveal all communication leading up to when the mural’s 2012 installation.

Petrarca said, "We're asking, particularly the people in political leadership in this town to delegitimize the mural by withdrawing their consent."

Petrarca turned himself into police Monday. Our cameras were rolling Tuesday afternoon when Petrarca was given a municipal ticket which carries a $250 fine if he pleads no contest. Petrarca says he plans to fight it. Whether the vandalism will be considered a felony or misdemeanor crime will be determined in court later this month.

Weinberger says he is thankful for the opportunity to talk about the concerns moving, but does not condone defacing private property.

"Civil disobedience has a place, I think in this case we could have had a conversation without the defacing of city property or private property in this case," said Weinberger.

The Church Street Marketplace commissioned the mural and fundraised more than $100,000 to install it. Its executive director, Ron Redmond called the vandalism disheartening, but believes there are options to make the situation better.

"We have looked at another wall a little further down on the south side of this alley way where we could do another mural so we are looking at those possibilities," said Redmond.

In the meantime, Petrarca believes he got his message across, "They created this mess, how they deal with it is not my problem... I think it puts the debate on the front burner in terms of the city."

Weinberger and Redmond are expected to review the concerns raised in Monday’s protest over the coming days and are expected to reconvene on the situation in 30 days.


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