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Two Patriot Front Members Charged With Defacing Washington Pride Mural

Respect and Love mural on rainbow background in Olympia, Washington.

Men who were arrested last month in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, have been charged with crimes involving anti-LGBTQ+ vandalism in neighboring Washington.

Two white supremacists who were arrested in Idaho last month are now charged with a crime in neighboring Washington relating to vandalism. Prosecutors say that hate-crime charges could be on the way.

The men have been charged with defacing a community mural in Olympia, and other arrests are expected, The News Tribune reports.

A video of the vandalism taken October 16 led police to identify 20-year-old Spencer Thomas Simpson and 23-year-old Colton Michael Brown as suspects. Authorities say both men are known members of the Patriot Front. The organization is a white nationalist hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The men have been charged with the misdemeanor crime of aiding and abetting graffiti.

"I appreciate the work of the investigators, and the community members who stepped forward to assist in the investigation," Olympia Police Chief Rich Allen said in a news release. "Acts like these have no place in Olympia. We will always investigate these kinds of incidents, and we will always work to hold those responsible to account in a court of law."

The video shows six men defacing a rainbow-colored mural painted on the side of a city-owned building and emblazoned with "Respect & Love Olympia." After antigay hate crimes took place in 2014, community leaders installed the mural, the paper reports. Two masked men patrolled the area while the Patriot Front vandals spray-painted the mural white.

Patriot Front member suspects: Spencer Thomas Simpson (L) and Colton Michael Brown (R)

Patriot Front member suspects: Spencer Thomas Simpson (L) and Colton Michael Brown (R).

"It is evident that the vandalism was an act of discrimination and an offense against the LGBTQ+ community in Olympia," wrote an investigator with the Olympia Police in a supplemental report that was submitted with the charging documents, according to Unicorn Riot.

Hate-crime charges could be added, according to local TV station KING.

Simpson pleaded not guilty to graffiti charges while out on bail. Brown, on the other hand, did not appear for his arraignment. Instead, the judge issued an arrest warrant for him.

Unicorn Riot compiled the following video with audio of court proceedings in this case.

Several other Patriot Front members have been investigated concerning the vandalism, including Jacob Sundt, Richard Flannery, Justin O'Leary, and Lawrence Norman, the site reports.

According to a leaked audio chat obtained by Unicorn Riot, Simpson and other Patriot Front members discussed vandalism of the George Floyd statue in New York City on October 3.

"You show people that you can do something like this, and you can get away with it, it encourages other people to do something," he says.

During a second chat between Brown and others, Brown allegedly described a plan to deface the Olympia mural. Brown said a fence would protect the mural because "people don't like fa***try."

Brown allegedly told Patriot Front members to serve as lookouts, intimidating passersby and smashing phones of anyone trying to record their actions. He reportedly told group members to leave their phones at home so that the geolocation tracking data wouldn't place them at the crime scene.

In addition to acting as lookouts, Brown also ordered group members to intimidate passersby who noticed the group painting over the mural and to steal and smash any cell phones onlookers may have used to capture the vandalism, according to the site.

In June, Simpson and Brown were arrested along with 29 alleged Patriot Front members in connection with a plot to disrupt a Pride event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

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