ROGERS PARK — Police arrested a man for alleging spray painting “Trump 2020,” “Sanders 2020” and “Warren 2020 Socialism” on garages in Rogers Park — and are now investigating whether he’s also responsible for a series of anti-LGBTQ messages, police said.
Police said Kartik Kulkarni, 22, was arrested at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday in the alley behind the 6400 block of Newgard Avenue. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of defacement involving paint for the conflicting presidential messages, police said.
Police and Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) said investigators are now trying to determine if Kulkarni is responsible for anti-LGBTQ vandalism nearby.
“Police are looking into a possible connection with Kulkarni,” a police spokesman said. “But no connection has been determined at this time.”
On Wednesday, someone wrote “F—-T” in black spray paint on the brick wall under a pride flag hanging in the window of a first floor condo. That same condo was targeted with the same slur in white paint on Sept. 10.
After the Sept. 10 vandalism, Hadden immediately had Ward Supt. Danny Murphy clean the graffiti off the building.
Jeanne Crouch, owner of the unit that was twice defaced, said hateful rhetoric from vandals has not made her consider removing the pride flag.
“My wife and I have no intention of taking that flag down,” she wrote. “We will continue to file police reports and blast that word off of our building until this person is caught. We will not be intimidated.”
One neighbor volunteered to install a camera at the building for free while others offered messages of support.
Hadden said an increase in hate crimes has been on her radar for some time now. She said with the 2020 election on the horizon she is worried crimes like the ones that recently occurred could increase.
Rogers Park residents have been posting about vandalism in community Facebook groups, with many commenters sharing additional acts in the last two weeks.
Hadden encouraged neighbors to document additional hate crimes and to call police and her office with any new incidents.
“I’m taking these incidents very seriously and encourage people to please report [any incidents] to my office,” she wrote in a community Facebook page.
Here are the three garages allegedly vandalized by Kulkarni, according to Ald. Maria Hadden:
Meanwhile, neighbors also reported these graffiti incidents:
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