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No charges in Santa Fe graffiti case

When Mohamed “Ziggy” Rzig learned Sunday that the word “terrorist” had been written in bright pink chalk outside of his Santa Fe restaurant, he felt shocked, offended and violated.

Local police believe the message was written by a man with “very apparent mental issues” who wrote the same word outside of a local motel.

Santa Fe police Lt. Sean Strahon said the department’s “person of interest” has “a hard time with reality at all.” Because the message was written in chalk and didn’t damage anything, prosecutors said that the person can’t be charged, Strahon said.

“It’s more of an annoyance than anything,” he said. “We’re documenting it, and we’re trying to get this man some help.”

But to Rzig, who is Muslim, it’s much more than an annoyance.

“Those words speak for themselves,” he said.

He said it shouldn’t matter that the word was written in chalk, the effect was the same.

“That isn’t cool. You let anybody go and do things like that and write horrible messages like that? And, yeah, it’s fine as long as you do it with chalk?” he said. He believes he knows who did it, and he doesn’t think the man had mental health problems.

Rzig, 38, immigrated to the United States about 19 years ago from Tunisia. He’s now an American citizen who owns three restaurants, including the Pyramid Cafe on Cordova.

Santa Fe City Councilwoman Renee Villarreal distributed a photograph taken of the chalk writing, which had been washed off by Sunday afternoon.

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