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DA Declines to File Felony Charges in Chick-fil-A Vandalism Case (Updated)

Manny Castro has taken responsibility for painting the words "tastes like hate" on a Torrance Chick-fil-A.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has declined to file a felony case against Hollywood artist Manuel "Manny" Castro, who claimed responsibility for painting the words "tastes like hate" and a picture of a cow on a Torrance Chick-fil-A in early August.

, 30, on Aug. 8 on suspicion of vandalism. He posted $20,000 bail and was released about three hours later.

City News Service reported that county prosecutors referred the matter to the Torrance City Attorney's Office for consideration of possible misdemeanor charges.

"... It is the conclusion of the District Attorney's Office that this is not a matter for which felony prosecution is appropriate," wrote John Zajec, the head prosecutor in the Torrance office. "The matter is therefore referred to the Torrance City Attorney's Office for consideration of possible misdemeanor prosecution."

Della Thompson-Bell of the Torrance City Attorney's Office said her office had not yet received the case, so a decision had not yet been made on whether to pursue any charges.

Police first at the Chick-fil-A on the Redondo Beach border after media outlets tipped them off Aug. 3. Officers found a can of black spray paint left near the wall.

It cost the restaurant's owner "approximately several hundred dollars" to have the affected portion of the wall painted over, according to the document.

"The amount of the damages appears to be relatively minor involving repainting a section of stucco wall approximately 15 feet long by 12 feet high," Zajec wrote. "The suspect has acknowledged his wrongdoing and offered to make restitution."

Several hours after news of the vandalism broke, Castro told the Huffington Post in an exclusive interview that he spray-painted his message on the side of the eatery at 18200 Hawthorne Blvd. because of remarks Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy made in July supporting "traditional marriage."

"I'm against what these people stand for, what this company stands for," Castro, who is gay, told the Huffington Post. "They're trying to take away what little rights we already have."

Perhaps in respone to people calling the vandalism a "hate crime," Zajec noted that "the record does not establish the suspect was motivated by religious hatred."

In a second interview with the Huffington Post, Castro said his intent was not to commit a crime.

"It's paint on a wall," he said. "It got removed in less than an hour. It's not that much of a crime—it's a protest."

The charge evaluation worksheet noted that police believe another person participated in the vandalism; however, that person was not identified.

The Chick-fil-A CEO’s comments in July sparked protests from gay-rights groups, as well as support from loyal restaurant customers and people against same-sex marriage, who organized a national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Jim August 30, 2012 at 02:48 PM
A little over exaggeration. I heard the cost was $700(a little much for a flat wall), and I doubt you'd be sent to Quentin for life. And I don't think if you're "far left" you have a license to get away with anything! If you're referring to hate crime legislation, gays have been historically targeted by bullies, including the police. That's why there is hate crime legislation, in order to protect a targeted minority.
Tim Sole August 30, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I would not be as concerned with what our "District Attorney" decided in this case. He does have the burden of asking himself tough questions as to whether this rose to the level of a felony. I would be more concerned with what a few Mayors of very large cities had to say after one man spoke his opinion. When the Mayor of a city, states that a business is not welcome, based on a individuals personal political or moral beliefs. That "Mayor", should be removed immediately.
Wolfman August 30, 2012 at 04:15 PM
just another liberal media double standard in our soceity if this was a gay or ? business it would have treated as a hate crime
Doug Boswell August 30, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Boyd, Boyd, Boyd. You sure jumped at the chance to whine on this occasion. Read CLaude Todoroff's comment again, slowly this time. Look up the big words. CLaude's summation was "If you champion a far left cause you can get away with anything nowadays." My comment was merely questioning his correlation of the way hate crime is determined and enforced with being a far left cause. And just to connect the dots a bit more for you; hate crime laws are in force because certain groups have been traditionally bullied, maligned, discriminated against, and… wait for it… maimed, crippled and killed, by small-minded, largely ignorant and certainly insecure people. So you ask, “who wasn’t treated equally?” Boyd, that question shows that you missed the message of CLaude’s post entirely, and the purpose of my question. You should have asked, “ Who hasn’t been treated equally.” Well, for one, gay men and women. I think that’s a point we can all agree on.
Brandt Hardin August 30, 2012 at 06:45 PM
If companies are people and people vote with dollars then the destination of the restaurant’s donations are open for public debate. It very well should be an issue as to where peoples’ hard-earned money goes after the chicken goes down their gullet. This issue has made our little feathered friend the modern martyr as Chick-fil-A laughs all the way to the bank. Watch the poultry be nailed to the cross and pierced by the spear of destiny at the hands of those devious cows on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/08/holy-rollin-poultry-on-cross-chick-fil.html

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