Md. man charged with hate crime after vandalism of Hyattsville street art project

According to police, Kenny Antonio Guevara, 29, of Chillum, told officers he spray painted a recently completed art installation in Hyattsville because he thought it represented gay pride. (Courtesy Hyattsville Police Department)
The city of Hyattsville said the project was intended to improve safety and visibility at the intersection. (Courtesy Hyattsville Police Department)

A Prince George’s County man has been arrested and accused of vandalizing a street art installation that he thought represented “gay pride,” but was actually intended to improve visibility and pedestrian safety.

Hyattsville police said they showed up to the intersection of Jefferson Street and 40th Avenue around 5:50 p.m. Thursday for a report that someone was spray painting a recently completed street art project.

As officers patrolled the area, they said they saw the individual return to the site to spray paint the art around 10 p.m. Police said the man, 29-year-old Chillum resident Kenny Antonio Guevara, was driving the same vehicle described by witnesses earlier in the day.

According to police, Guevara told officers he was spray painting the art “because he thought it represented ‘Gay Pride,'” officials said in a news release. Guevara was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property and a hate crime.

“We are very disappointed to see this new amenity defaced by someone motivated by hate,” Hyattsville Mayor Robert Croslin said in the news release. “I want to reassure the community that we will not tolerate acts of hate in the City of Hyattsville and we are working to restore the artwork as quickly as possible.”

The city, along with design firm Graham Projects, installed the “Quilt Crossing” art project earlier in the week to increase visibility and make the intersection safer for pedestrians. City workers started removing the spray paint Friday.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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