Phoenix community goes after graffiti artist online after mural is vandalized

PHOENIX - One community came together to crack down on a criminal. The neighbors of 19 North found a vandal’s Instagram page, and now they want him held responsible.

"I started to get texts and emails of people saying, did you see what happened," recounted Shannon McBride, Executive Director of 19 North, a non-profit focused at community growth and safety. 

McBride knew what had happened to her non-profit's community garden mural was not good.

"I was so sad to see that somebody had vandalized her mural. Not the blank walls to either side, but literally on top of her beautiful art,” McBride said.

The artist is a teenager.

"She spent 20 hours doing her first mural in our garden," said McBride.

Last week, someone spent far less time ruining the piece of art.

"So mean and thoughtless and unkind,” said McBride. “Then to find out they were going online bragging about it, just made me sick to my stomach.”

Neighbors say they found the alleged graffiti vandal on Instagram, using the handle "Blacky_blaks.”

"There was somebody else in the community that started to research online and found pictures of the person who had tagged,” said McBride.

The alleged graffiti artist even attempted a witty caption.

"Orange you [glad]? orange you sad?” he wrote.

McBride was sad and mad, so she commented on his post.

“What I really just said, [was...] that was disrespectful to another artist, really uncool,” McBride commented. "The anonymous spray-painter immediately took the site down...He hid, which tells you a lot about him.”

The community reported the account to the police. By the weekend they had already moved on.

“The community had shown up with paint and willing hearts. And it was hot; it was on Sunday. And they started covering it up, covering up the mural and prepping it for the artist to come back,” McBride said.

The now college freshman, Miranda, plans to re-paint her iconic oranges.

“We need to pay her, so we need to raise some money to do that,” McBride said.

As for the suspect, if he shows up again, he will not find an angry mob.

“You know what I would love if you came and helped us fix it. Wouldn’t that be great?” said McBride.

The nonprofit is looking to raise money to not only pay Miranda to re-paint the mural again, but they are also hoping to complete a fence around the garden and install lights and cameras.

You can support their efforts here.

If you want to report graffiti or volunteer to remove it, you can learn more on the city‘s website.

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