Police are looking for one person who walked up to mural and dumped red paint over the letter V in "Lives," which splattered across the mural as cars drove over it.
Video obtained by Eyewitness News shows the vandal in action:
"I saw somebody out of the corner of my eye putting down a bag...and I was thinking 'oh he's gonna get in my shot,'" said Nikki Ross, who recorded the video. "And when I got to about the clock, he took out the paint and splattered it across the mural."
Ross said the last few months have awakened her to her own privilege and it's her responsibility as a white woman to call out injustice.
"To be vocal, to tell your friends what the movement is about and explain to your friends how Black Lives Matter," Ross said. "I'm glad that he left the paint can there and wasn't wearing gloves."
Mayor Bill de Blasio said later Monday evening that the mural had already been fixed.
"The #BlackLivesMatter movement is more than words, and it can't be undone," he said on Twitter.
The suspect was described as a white male wearing a black hat and black T-shirt who fled westbound on West 56th Street.
It is unclear whether he had a political motivation or if he was just looking for attention. But cops say it's still an act of criminal mischief which is a misdemeanor.
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Last Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio grabbed a roller and helped paint the racial justice rallying cry alongside his wife Chirlane McCray and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' there is no more American statement, there is no more patriotic statement because there is no America without Black America," de Blasio said. "We are acknowledging the truth of ourselves as Americans by saying 'Black Lives Matter.' We are righting a wrong."
President Donald Trump has referred to the Black Lives Matter murals as a symbol of hate, tweeting the sign would denigrate Fifth Avenue.
NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the @NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue. This will further antagonize New York’s Finest, who LOVE New York & vividly remember the....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
....horrible BLM chant, “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon”. Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
Unlike some of the other murals around the city, this street remains open to traffic.
The NYPD is now reviewing surveillance video, and anyone with information is asked to contact police.
Related: 'Black Lives Matter' painted in front of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue
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