The UF Police Department arrested a man connected with the vandalism of the Institute of Black Culture sign Thursday. This is his third time vandalizing the same sign.
Marvelle Blair, a 27-year-old Gainesville resident, is being charged with criminal mischief, trespass after warning and assault on a law enforcement officer. Blair was booked into the Alachua County Jail at 2:49 p.m. Thursday.
UPD officers were informed Thursday the sign in front of the Institute of Black Culture had been uprooted and left on the ground the night before. Officers recognized Blair as the suspect through video surveillance and previous interactions with police, according to a UF news alert.
Blair has been arrested for damaging the same sign twice prior to this incident. He was charged with criminal mischief in separate incidents in May 2021 and November 2021, according to the alert.
Blair was issued a trespass warning Sept. 3, 2021, which barred him from campus for three years. On Oct. 20, 2021, Blair trespassed on campus and slept in the Emerson Alumni Hall parking garage. He was arrested for trespassing after warning on UF campus and issued with the same trespass warning again.
Blair’s arrest comes a few weeks after the vandalism of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden, located on UF’s campus. This is now the second vandalism of monuments and signs involving UF’s Black community, but investigators don’t believe the incidents are related.
The vandalism of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Garden was identified as a hate crime by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. However, UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan said investigators have no indication Blair’s actions were motivated by hate.
“This investigation is being treated as an act of vandalism,” Roldan wrote.
The UF Black Student Union and the UF Center for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement issued a joint statement Thursday night expressing to the student body they must show resilience against the vandalisms.
“We are filled with both sadness and frustration that we must continue to fight against disgraceful acts that impact spaces that have been created for the Black community,” the statement said.
BSU will work closely with the university to create an action plan to support the Black community, according to the statement.
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Claire Grunewald is a third-year journalism major and a metro reporter for The Alligator. In addition to writing, she enjoys going to the beach and discovering new music.