Thursday, May 13, 2021
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Police Release Video of ‘Persons of Interest’ in MLK Plaza Vandalism; Increase Reward

State College police on Thursday released surveillance video footage of the “persons of interest” being sought in connection with the vandalism of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza mural on South Fraser Street last week.

A reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible also has been increased from $1,000 to $3,000.

On Friday, the logo of a white supremacist organization classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group was stenciled in a red substance over an image of King on the mural, which depicts photos from the civil rights leader’s 1965 visit to Penn State. 

The video footage shows three masked individuals exiting the stairwell of the adjoining Fraser Street Parking Garage. One appears to be carrying a camera and a bag and another is also carrying a bag.

The reward increase was made possible through donations by a local business owner and his wife, who wish to remain anonymous, and members of the Downtown State College Rotary Club.

Police are investigating the incident as a crime of ethnic intimidation. Anyone who may have information is asked to contact the State College Police Department at (814) 234-7150, by email or by submitting an anonymous tip through the department’s website.

“Attacks through hate and hate based symbolism have no place in the Borough of State College and will not be tolerated,” a police statement said. “The SCPD and Borough government overall are extremely appreciative of all who have spoken out against this senseless act of hate and vandalism and are especially grateful to the two entities who offered to increase the reward.”

Local faith congregation leaders organized a “Unite Against Hate” vigil at the plaza on Sunday. A number of community, university and business leaders have denounced the defacement of the mural and expressed their commitment to a welcoming and inclusive community.

The name of the same hate group, which calls for American fascism and white nationalism, also appeared on graffiti around State College and Bellefonte in January. A State College police spokesperson said suspects in that case have not yet been identified.