Vandals target Seminole Heights street mural

- It took three years to finally put in place, and in less than three weeks Tampa's first street mural has already been defaced - twice.

Seminole Heights neighbors want to know who is messing with the giant street mural volunteers painted at the intersection of North River Blvd. and Louisiana Ave. last month.

The mural was designed to beautify the neighborhood and to encourage drivers in the area to slow down. It's also encouraged vandals to do some pretty, well, un-pretty things to the colorful mural.

The fresh paint barely had a week to dry when the first vandal struck: someone covered the mural in feces. Neighbors quickly cleaned up after that party pooper.

Then a week later, someone decided to leave a more permanent mark by doing a burnout with their car right in the middle of the mural. The maneuver stripped the paint down to the asphalt and left a 4-foot long black streak across the design.

Neighbors say they're baffled as to why someone would target the street mural.

"It's sad. Why would you do something to mess this up, something that's pretty?" asked Seminole Heights neighbor Carla Gormon. "Why would you do that?"

But in a neighborhood that's finally hitting its stride after fighting back blight for decades, neighbors say they aren't deterred at all by a few bad actors.

"I don't really like the phrase, 'this is why we can't have nice things'. This is exactly why we need nice things and we need to fight to better our community and not get discouraged when bad things do happen because it's just life. Bad things are going to happen and you've got to bounce back and be resilient and keep on moving forward," said Matt Bailey, who says in its short time in place, it's definitely had a positive effect on the neighborhood. 

"Since it's been here we've noticed cars really slow down to take a look at it," said Bailey.

Neighbors say they'll repaint the portion of the mural that was damaged this week. They've also installed new surveillance cameras in case the pranksters come back.

A Tampa Police spokesman said the prankster could face reckless driving or mischief charges. They're asking for anyone who may have caught something on camera to give them a call. 

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