Richmond man sentenced to jail for hateful park graffiti

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Graphic and often hateful messages have landed a 22-year-old in jail for three months.

In court this morning, Andrew Bryant Souser admitted he spray painted the racial slurs in two Richmond parks.

Souser pled guilty to felony destruction of property and five misdemeanors as part of a plea deal.

Joseph Bryan Park and Forest Hill Park is cleaned-up now, but it cost several thousand dollars to do that. Money that will eventually be re-paid to the city by Souser.

He was sentenced to three months in jail. So how'd they catch up to him in the first place? Surveillance video, your tips and also a fingerprint left on a can of spray paint.

Hateful graffiti targeting African Americans and Jews marred two Richmond parks in 2009.

"They were graphic and vile and I thought, this is just intolerable," said Richmond resident Linda Arencibia.

"Disturbing because it's not a good thing for kids to see," said Richmond resident Ramesh Natarajan.

Messages painted in the bathroom at Bryan Park. Cars were spray painted, sidewalks even construction equipment at Forest Hill Park.

It also happened at Three Lakes Park in Henrico County. But at that park, surveillance cameras were rolling and Souser quickly became the prime suspect.

He had little to say in court, but prosecutor Caitlyn Kelley say his work speaks volumes.

"He is someone who is anti-establishment. He is anti-government, and he thought it was amusing or funny that people got so upset about the very hurtful and very offensive things that he wrote," she said.

Souser will not only will serve jail time, but has to work with Richmond Public Works graffiti clean-up team for several weeks when he gets out. And must pay $7,500 to his victims. Nearly $5,000 of that money is what it cost to clean up Richmond's parks.

Kelley says Souser's sentence is a clear sign, Richmond will not tolerate future acts of intolerance.

"It is a tribute to the community that it cares enough about this stuff to say you know what we're not going to tolerate this here in the city," she said.

Souser pled guilty to similar charges in Henrico County for vandalism at Three Lakes Park.

He'll be sentenced in February.

A second man charged in some of the incidents, Jonathan Edward Feldman, 22, will be in court next month.

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