SALT LAKE CITY — Police are searching for two vandals after a proclamation in support of the Bears Ears National Monument was found spray-painted across a wall of the Senate Building at the Utah Capitol complex early Saturday.
The red lettering found on the east side of the Senate Building declared "Solidarity w/ Bears Ears." The message was partially underlined in black spray paint and included two "anarchy symbols," according to investigators.
Investigators are now reviewing surveillance footage of two people approaching the building from the east shortly after midnight, spray-painting the message and fleeing, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Tom Schneiter, who is assigned to the Capitol. Details about the suspects were not released Saturday.
"In the past, we've been pretty successful at rapidly identifying a suspect and making an apprehension within a couple of days," Schneiter said. "Hopefully it's the same case here."
Crews spent several hours scrubbing the message off the stone wall Saturday, Schneiter said. If someone is charged for the vandalism, he noted that potential penalties could be enhanced once the damage has been evaluated.
Schneiter said graffiti has only appeared at the Capitol one other time in the past year, and that message wasn't a political one. He called it "unfortunate" that someone would turn to damaging property in order to express an opinion.
"This is something we take very seriously, we are going to dedicate the resources to try to identify who did this and bring them to justice," Schneiter said.
The graffiti appeared one day after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Utah to support preservation of big game migration corridors.
Zinke was met by protesters Friday as members of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other environmental activists gathered outside the Salt Palace Convention Center, where Zinke attended the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo.21 comments on this story
The Trump administration is currently being sued by multiple groups after downsizing the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in December. The reductions came after Zinke reviewed the monuments in person last spring.
Critics had alleged the Obama- and Clinton-era designations fell outside of the 1906 Antiquities Act because of their size or a lack of public input when they were created.
At a press conference Friday, Zinke said there was "no chance" the boundary reductions at Bears Ears would be revisited by his office, despite the repeated protests.