At long last, the Circle Avenue bridge vandal, who on at least 10 occasions defaced the “No Human is Illegal” mural, has been caught.
The 62-year-old man from Oak Park was arrested on Friday, Dec. 4, when a citizen witnessed vandalism in progress, called the police, and pointed out the offender to the officer.
The citizen, part of a small group of regulars who looked out for the mural and repainted or fixed it after it was vandalized, had gotten dinner at Tacabron, near the foot of the bridge, on the night in question. He was sitting in his car when he happened to see a man walk up the bridge and stop in front of the mural.
He immediately called the police, who quickly arrived. The witness identified the suspect, who threw a red Sharpie style marker at the officer upon his approach. It was red marker that had been scribbled over the mural.
The offender was placed into custody.
He admitted defacing the mural previously but couldn’t or didn’t provide specifics about the dates it had occurred. He was issued a local ordinance citation for the incident.
The mural in question was painted by a group of students during the Cover our Rust project, organized in 2017 by Sally Cody, executive secretary and deputy village clerk at the time.
Sometimes covered with paint or marker, the “no” in the phase “No Human is Illegal” has also been covered by glue and cardboard or wood, usually in the evening or late-night hours and discovered early in the morning. These acts of vandalism, always targeting the same mural, go back to April 2019.
The mural has been repaired or repainted each time, sometimes by that group of Forest Park residents who keep the right colors of paint on hand to fix the sign; sometimes by the village’s public works department; and sometimes by the police, who have wiped away marker and glue.
Last November, Mayor Rory Hoskins responded to repeated acts of vandalism against that mural by displaying the words “No Human is Illegal” on the Howard Mohr Community Center’s digital billboard at the corner of Desplaines Avenue and Jackson Boulevard.
Upon the arrest on Dec. 4, Hoskins said, “Our police department worked really hard to determine who was repeatedly vandalizing the mural. I think that our residents appreciate their diligence and their determination.”