DENVER — Remnants of a rainbow are all that's left of a Lake Middle School mural after someone defaced it this weekend.
"I was a little upset that somebody in the community, you know, the community that we live in just thinks that it's okay to spread hate, and especially directed at our youth," said Jorge Delgado.
He snapped a photo of the vandalism while walking his dog this weekend after seeing "KEEP THIS CRAP OUT OF SCHOOL WTF" spray-painted in red over the Trans Lives Matter mural.
"I feel like the only reason that somebody would take that upon themselves to, again, spread hateful messages... they've obviously never interacted with somebody [who is trans]," Delgado said.
A nearby surveillance camera captured a man walking up to the mural and defacing it around 9:06 a.m. Saturday. A homeowner caught the suspect in the act as he was about to take his dog for a walk. The photos the homeowner took show the man carrying a red spray paint can.
.@DenverPolice's Bias-Motivated Crime Unit is investigating after a man defaced a Trans Lives Matter mural painted by students of Lake Middle School.— Pattrik Perez (@PattrikPerez) March 29, 2022
A home camera caught the man & so did a neighbor.@CenterOnColfax calls this "very disturbing." More at 5 on @DenverChannel. pic.twitter.com/HJHql61znd
"We kind of exchanged some heated words for about 20 minutes before I realized you just can't even reason or rationalize with this individual," said the homeowner, who did not want to be identified. "It was just senseless regurgitation of talking points that have no merit in them."
According to an Instagram post by City Year Denver - Lake MS, students began painting the mural in mid-February.
"I've talked to the kids, and they've talked about how, you know, [the mural] embodies their school spirit," the homeowner said.
The homeowner reported the incident to the Denver Police Department, Lake Middle School and several LGBTQ groups, including The Center on Colfax, which sent Denver7 the following statement:
This is very disturbing and disappointing to see graffiti like this targeting the LGBTQ community and specifically the transgender community. This seems to be tied to nationwide efforts to restrict what children learn in school regarding gender diversity and inclusion of LGBTQ people. We have also seen an increase in anti-LGBTQ crimes such as this on a state and national level. We appreciate the efforts of the bystander to identify the person who did the graffiti. We all need to take a stand so that everyone in our community can feel safe and respected.
A Denver police spokesperson said the department is aware of the incident, and its Bias-Motivated Crime Unit is investigating. Denver7 reached out to Denver Public Schools but has not received a response, likely because it's spring break.
Both the homeowner and Delgado hope this isn't the last of the students' work.
"Make it bigger," Delgado said. "Heck, they have all this wall over here. Let's go. Let's do some more."