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Gay artist who vandalized Chick-fil-A won't be charged

Graffiti

Manuel CastroA West Hollywood artist who allegedly painted the words "Tastes like hate" on the side of a Chick-fil-A restaurant because of the company president's stand against gay marraige won't be criminally charged by the L.A. County district attorney's office.

Prosecutors announced Wednesday they were declining to press charges after Torrance police submitted a case.

"The suspect has acknowledged his wrongdoing and offered to make restitution.  Finally, the record does not establish the suspect was motivated by religious hatred," the D.A.'s office said in its letter rejecting prosecution.

The cost to paint over the graffiti is about $700.

The case could still be reviewed for prosecution by the Torrance city attorney's office.

Manuel Castro, 30, was arrested on suspicion of vandalism several weeks ago.

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."

 

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."

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— 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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