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Arizona city's public LGBTQ display is splattered with paint

Posted August 9

A rainbow crosswalk was splattered with white paint shortly after it was installed in Tucson, Arizona, but residents say they are not letting the incident rain on their parade.

Residents found the colorful sidewalk and areas around it damaged early Tuesday morning. A 20-ounce cup that contained paint was also found near the splatter, said Mike Graham, spokesman for the city's transportation department.

The crosswalk was a collaboration between the city of Tucson, the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. It features rainbow stripes painted within the crosswalk's boundaries.

The crosswalk is not only a public show of support for the city's LGBTQ residents, it is also a "blatant symbol of diversity" that represents the "culture of the community," said Fred Ronstadt, executive director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association.

Ronstadt said members of the association are treating the incident as vandalism and have filed a report with the Tucson Police Department. But though the crosswalk is a gesture of support for the LGBTQ community, Ronstadt said he is not sure if the act was an act of hate.

"It could've just been some idiot who thought they were being funny. There was no statement made after the fact or anything," he said.

Graham said the act might not have been vandalism. He said he didn't see it happen and noted the majority of paint was spilled on the roadway.

Both Graham and Ronstadt said they were notified of the incident around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, just five hours before a dedication ceremony was scheduled to take place for the crosswalk.

The city was able to repaint the asphalt and the association attempted to power wash the paint off the crosswalk -- and the event went on as scheduled.

"Tucson is very resilient. There are a lot of people here who are supportive of the (crosswalk) and what it stands for," Ronstadt said. "There have even been several artists who came forward with ideas to turn the graffiti into art, turn it into a heart or birds, something positive."

And if it happens again, Ronstadt said the association plans to "respond aggressively" and make sure the issue gets fixed.

"The merchants are proud stewards of this wonderful piece of public art and we stand behind what it symbolizes," he said.

A similar crosswalk was installed in Atlanta in June, according to CNN affiliate WSB-TV.

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