OLYMPIA, Wash. — The two men accused of vandalizing an Olympia mural last fall were arrested last month on riot charges related to a pride event in Idaho.
Olympia police said Spencer Simpson and Colton Brown are members of Patriot Front, a nationally recognized white nationalist hate group.
Detectives said the two were part of a group who painted over a mural designed to support the LGBTQ+ community in downtown Olympia back in October 2021.
According to court documents, Simpson and Brown were identified on videos of the incident, recorded by fellow Patriot Front members.
Simpson appeared before an Olympia municipal court judge Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to one count of aiding and abetting graffiti.
Brown did not appear, and the judge issued a warrant for Brown's arrest.
Neither man has prior criminal convictions in Washington, but they both were part of a group arrested in Idaho last month.
According to detectives, 31 Patriot Front members were planning on starting a riot at a pride event in Coeur D’Alene.
“These people are just low down dirt dogs,” said Anna Schlecht, with the Unity in the Community organization.
Schlecht helped get the mural designed in 2014, as a reaction to hate crimes in downtown Olympia.
“We wanted to send out a really strong message that Olympia embraces the entire community, including the LGBTQ communities,” said Schlecht.
Until the incident last October, she said the mural had not been vandalized.
After volunteers cleaned up the mural, it was taken down and is being kept in storage. It had been in front of a building scheduled to be demolished and replaced with low-income housing.
Schletcht said while it’s not clear when the mural will be on display again in Olympia.
“This mural means so much to our community, and it rattled people to their core to think that Patriot Front was trying to erase the LGBTQ community,” said Schlecht.