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Motorcycle crew vandalizes $30,000 rainbow crosswalk

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque’s most colorful intersection got its first black eye this week.

Several motorcyclists tried to deface a $30,000 rainbow-colored crosswalk – painted specially for Pride Week – on Wednesday, and now the Albuquerque Police Department is investigating.

Craig LaBerge Esparza, president of Albuquerque Pride, on Thursday surveys the damage to a rainbow crosswalk installed a week ago on Central in observance of Pride Week. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Craig LaBerge Esparza, president of Albuquerque Pride, on Thursday surveys the damage to a rainbow crosswalk installed a week ago on Central in observance of Pride Week. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

APD spokesman Gilbert Gallegos said the department has received several videos of the incident and a detective has been assigned to investigate. One video posted online shows dozens of bikers riding along Central before a couple of them take turns burning rubber over the crosswalk, at Morningside. One biker appears to suffer a blowout from the effort and duckwalks his bike to the curb, its back tire flopping around on the rim.

“The facts will determine the appropriate charges, including whether damages amount to misdemeanor or felony charges,” Gallegos said Thursday. “City crews attempted to clean the crosswalks today. It is not yet clear whether some portions will need to be re-striped.”

Gallegos said APD’s gang unit is looking into the incident because the video “may indicate the involvement of gang members.” He did not elaborate.

City road crews on Thursday power-washed the surface, applied a solvent and used a street-sweeper, said Johnny Chandler, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Municipal Development.

Mayor Tim Keller is scheduled to hold a news conference at the intersection today.

The crosswalk was just days old at the time of the incident.

A contractor installed the crosswalk last Friday in honor of Pride Week. It cost the city about $30,000 – roughly three times the price of a traditional crosswalk paint job, but Chandler said a white crosswalk has a lifespan of two to three years, while the rainbow surfacing should have a 10-year lifespan.

Chandler said the city considers the project more than a paint job. It was intended as a sign of “inclusiveness,” he said, and could serve as a draw for the Nob Hill neighborhood.

“It’s kind of an attraction, as well,” Chandler said. “It’s art on the roadway.”

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