The Asheville Police Department is investigating after their local Fraternal Order of Police lodge was attacked by a vandal on Monday morning who painted “Black Lives Matter” across the front of the building.
In addition to the graffiti, the vandal also damaged the on-site security camera, smashed the windows out of an FOP van and removed the lodge’s U.S. flag and “ran it back up upside down.”
The incident took place around 4 a.m., police spokesperson Christina Hallingse told the local Citizen Times.
The lone white male suspect was caught on security footage despite his attempt to destroy the cameras. The tape has now been turned over to the police.
“I pulled up here this morning and was just taken aback,” Rondell Lance, a retired police officer and president of the lodge told the Citizen Times. “I wondered who would do this and why would they do this to our lodge?”
Lance estimated that there is at least $5,000 in damage to the structure.
“I’m thinking it’s more of an ANTIFA or anti-government-type person rather than somebody that’s involved with Black Lives Matter,” he said. “It’s someone just trying to keep the community upset and trying to stir up strife in the community.”
Lance explained that the reason he does not think it was someone who works with Black Lives Matter is due to the fact that he maintains an open dialog with DeLores Venable, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Asheville and the local NAACP.
The Asheville Police Department has been facing backlash from activists following an incident in August where former officer Chris Hickman was caught on camera violently arresting a man named Johnnie Jermaine Rush. The officer resigned in January, but was charged with felony assault by strangulation, misdemeanor assault inflicting serious injury and misdemeanor communicating threats last week.
Lance, along with many other officers on the force have condemned what happened on the video of the Rush arrest.
“From our standpoint, we just hope there’s one guy responsible,” Lance said. “We think it’s just one person for whatever reason and they chose when there’s all this turmoil in the community to do this crime.”
“We still are going to be a part of the community and we’re still going to find solutions.”
Lance has stated that the FOP will be offering an award for information leading to the arrest of the vandal.
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