Edmonds police: Hate crime charges referred in vandalism of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ art installation

Artist Christabel Jamison completing her artwork last week. (Photo courtesy City of Edmonds)

A 69-year-old Edmonds man has been identified as a suspect in the vandalism of the “I Can’t Breathe” art installation on the fence at Edmonds’ Civic Park, and Edmonds police have referred hate crime charges to the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office.

The prosecutor’s office will review and then make a decision whether to file charges in the case.

The artwork — installed last week as part of the city’s On the Fence temporary artwork program — was defaced with black spray paint Tuesday, July 14. It was restored a few hours later thanks to the quick work of community members.

According to Edmonds police, the suspect was identified by patrol officers not long after the incident was reported on July 14. Two witnesses provided a suspect description and vehicle license plate, and police contacted the suspect at his Edmonds residence. Further investigation was conducted by an Edmonds police detective.

“Over the last several months our community has been tested in so many ways,” said Acting Edmonds Police Chief Jim Lawless. “This is just another example of our community working with us to support our mission. We value that relationship and will never take it for granted.”

The “I Can’t Breathe” art installation was completed by lifelong Edmonds resident and recent Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate Christabel Jamison. She said her goal was to support conversation in Edmonds about the Black Lives Matter movement. Her installation incorporates the colors of the African American flag, a symbol of love and unity, and the phrase in red vinyl letters “I Can’t Breathe,” which she sees as “a cry for justice of the Black community.”



2 Replies to “Edmonds police: Hate crime charges referred in vandalism of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ art installation”

  1. I’m sorry a piece of art by a young artist was defaced. I am curious as to why the person defaced it. I’m sure there are many different reasons why.


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