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Police encounter leads to 'redemption' for men who spray-painted messages aimed at racial injustice

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-13 00:01:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Some men are sharing their story of an unlikely redemption after police spotted them spray-painting graffiti on a street in El Cajon.

Gripped by the message of the recent protests, Dre, Dan, and Gee did something they've never done before. The three, all of them artists, ended up on Heart Drive with spray paint.

"Just wanted to put up something, so when people drive by, it says 'love.' It says 'peace,'" said Dan.

"We are about art. People need to see the message," said Dre.

Around 2 a.m., El Cajon Police Sergeant Mike Murphy pulled up to the three, before two more officers arrived. The three friends prepared to be arrested. Sgt. Murphy surveyed what they painted: peace signs, the words 'BLM' and 'Justice For Floyd.'

He talked to them about the impact of graffiti. The men apologized. There would be no arrest. The three friends offered to fix it and Sgt. Murphy said he would help.

"That's a good feeling. It's the same as the message we were out there painting that night," said Dan.

That same day, the men turned up with paint and rollers and together with Sgt. Murphy, they covered the spray paint. The three men decided they would funnel their passions into an art installation with the theme of unity. Sgt. Murphy agreed to help them find a venue for it. Dre and Dan say their encounter with him shows them that police can be part of the solution.

"Not every cop is out to kill black people. There are good cops out there, and I think people need to start understanding and noticing," said Dre.

After the art piece is complete, Sgt. Murphy plans to submit a request to El Cajon officials in hopes of displaying it on city property.