The vandalism as depicted on the department's Facebook page
On Saturday, hundreds of volunteers in Montpelier painted "Black Lives Matter" in huge block letters on the street in front of the Vermont Statehouse. By Sunday morning, someone had dumped dirt and oil on one of the letters and painted graffiti nearby.
Montpelier police said they were seeking the suspect, described as a white man who was captured in the act on camera.
Gov. Phil Scott issued a statement denouncing the defacement as an "effort to fuel hate and division."
"This act of vandalism only reinforces that we’re not immune to racism, divisiveness and hate in Vermont," Scott said in a written statement. "We must redouble our efforts to dismantle systemic racism and bigotry, and stay united as Vermonters."
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) had joined the volunteers who painted the message.
"While it is easy to be disgusted and angered by the vandalism of these anonymous cowards, for me their actions reinforce the need to address head-on the racism and white supremacy right here in our communities," she said in a statement.
Volunteers painting on Saturday
Hundreds of volunteers had turned out to paint the letters, with the blessing of the Montpelier City Council. Local activist Noel Riby-Williams organized the effort. By days' end, the message was visible from the airspace above Montpelier.
The vandalism involved oil and dirt strewn along the "V" and graffiti on the sidewalk: "$400 million gone," "put it back call Trump," "We the pepbul" and other messages.
Courtesy of Katie Clark
State Street from the air
Montpelier police said officers were seeking a suspect caught on camera and published low-resolution photos. The man may have been present downtown while volunteers were painting, police said.
He was described as a white man, about 50 years old, who was 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 170 pounds, with scruffy facial hair. He wore a dark brimmed hat, a dark jacket and blue jeans. He was caught on camera "in the act," police said, and the department was working to enhance the images.