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Artist who took credit for Torrance Chick-fil-A vandalism arrested

Graffiti

Manuel CastroTorrance police have arrested a West Hollywood artist who allegedly painted the words "Tastes like hate" on the side of a Chick-fil-A restaurant last week.

Manuel Castro, 30, was arrested on suspicion of vandalism about 7 p.m. Wednesday in West Hollywood, said Torrance police Sgt. Steve Jenkinson. Investigators are also working to identify a person of interest "who may have been involved in the commission of this crime."

The graffiti — accompanied by a representation of a cow holding a paint brush — appeared during a week of demonstrations at Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide sparked by company President Dan Cathy's public denunciation of same-sex marriage.

Discovered about 6:40 a.m. Friday at the Hawthorne Boulevard restaurant, the vandalism coincided with "National Same-Sex Kiss Day," when gay rights supporters asked couples to take photos of themselves kissing at Chick-fil-A locations.

Castro took credit for the graffiti in an interview with the Huffington Post.

"Everybody is entitled to free speech, but it seems like for the gay tribe, this is more of an issue of equal rights — human rights," he said. "I'm against what these people stand for, what this company stands for. They're trying to take away what little rights we already have."

Investigators were aware of Castro's comments and worked to independent identify him as their suspect, Jenkinson said. Using "numerous items of evidence" discovered at the scene as well as information gathered during their investigation, detectives consulted with the Los Angeles district attorney's office before arresting Castro.

A day before he was taken into custody, Castro made another statement to the Huffington Post, telling his critics the act was "meant to further a discussion about tolerance and acceptance."

"I didn’t use violence. I used paint. Artists for centuries have expressed their opinions through this medium and I am no different," he said. "I am happy to pay for the costs of repainting the wall, but I am not — nor will I ever be — happy to sit quietly at the back of the bus."

An investigation into the case is still ongoing, Jenkinson said. Detectives ask anyone with additional information to call (310) 618-5570.

ALSO:

— Kate Mather 

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

Photos, from top: Workers paint over graffiti left on a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Torrance; Manuel Castro. Credits: Sandy Mazza / Daily Breeze;  Torrance Police Department
 
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