know about Santa Cruz judge to decide value of defaced Black Lives Matter painting
SANTA CRUZ — A judge will determine Monday morning the value of a painting on a downtown street with the words “Black Lives Matter” that was defaced a year ago.
Contrary to standard court procedure, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati is holding restitution hearings. at the request of the defensebefore a result in felony vandalism hate crime case. Santa Cruz police officers have testified that the defendants Brandon Bochat, 21, of Santa Cruz, and Hagan Warner, 20of Boulder Creek, each admitted after their arrests to marking the painting, though each later pleaded not guilty to the crimes.
Defense attorney Micha Rinkus, who is representing Bochat, said during the Dec. 15 preliminary hearing in the case that she hoped to “resolve this matter without having to go to trial and all that that entails.”
During a restitution hearing on June 2, Cogliati heard testimony about the value of the painting and ordered the prosecution and two defense attorneys to follow up with separate case briefings to argue the proposed restitution dollar amounts in time for the hearing. Monday’s decision. In his filing, Santa Cruz County Deputy District Attorney Michael Mahan argued that the value of the paint replacement, according to testimony, should be set at nearly $89,000, a price that includes pressure washing, permits from the city, paint supplies, artist time, and street closures. . At a rate of $30 per square foot for a 2,750-square-foot painting, the artists’ fee comprised the bulk of the budget: $82,500. That amount was less than a previous city. estimated approximately $115,000.
Defense attorney Ed Sidawi, who is representing Warner, said he was arguing that restitution be set only at the cost of permit and painting fees, because “the court cannot award speculative restitution. It can only give restitution for economic losses.” A similar filing on behalf of Bochat was not immediately available on Friday.
‘More than ‘painting in the street’ ‘
The privately funded Black Lives Matter painting was initially created in September 2020. in front of the city hall of santa cruz as a community volunteer effort, under the supervision and direction of local artists who donate their time. In June 2021, a group of the original organizers led the Made Fresh Crew artist collective effort to refresh the paint, part of a planned annual celebration and community conversation. A little more than a month later, two different drivers in a pickup truck with an American flag mounted on its rear bed each ran over the paint, leaving dark marks of burned rubber, according to witness testimony from City Hall video surveillance.
Lawyers for Bochat and Warner have questioned the proposed high cost to repair or replace the paint.
In a letter sent to the court through Mahan this month and signed by 44 supporters, the authors write in support of a larger amount of restitution in the case, citing the cultural and historical significance of the artwork. The street painting was approved and authorized by the Santa Cruz City Council “during a crucial time of reckoning and national upheaval regarding racial justice and police brutality,” according to the letter.
“This was much more than ‘painting in the street.’ This was an important piece of art for our entire community, and especially for the black community,” the community letter says. “This piece symbolized safety, belonging, and caring for the community — other groups have held events specifically at the site of this mural for that reason — and from that perspective, this mural is priceless.”
Ask for restorative justice
Various members of the community who have spoken out on this case have pressed the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office to find an outcome that reflects the restorative justice model, which generally aims to restore public trust through direct interaction between victims and perpetrators.
Artist Abi Mustapha, who was inspired to propose the Black Lives Matters effort in Santa Cruz after seeing similar artwork in Oakland, described the painting as a “punch to the stomach for some very old wounds. He has also endorsed a restorative justice approach.
“As members of our community, you deserve the opportunity to apologize and make amends just as much as I and others deserve an apology,” Mustapha wrote to the court. “We all deserve a chance at reconciliation. This is how I would like to be treated if I were in his place.”
Defense attorneys have argued that the vandalism involved their clients’ disregard for Black Lives Matter as a political movement, rather than an act based on racism. During the processing of the case preliminary hearing in december, footage taken from Bochat’s video and chat on the Snapchat social media account reportedly shows Bochat driving Warner’s truck over the painting while Warner and several minors shout “white power” and give Nazi salutes. Warner is also allegedly heard saying “heil Hitler,” according to the testimony.
Monday’s hearing is scheduled for 9 am in Department 6 of the Santa Cruz court.