Manny Castro, the gay artist and provocateur who proudly publicized the work he did on the side of a Torrance Chick-fil-A (he painted “Tastes Like Hate” in response to the chain's stance against same-sex marriage) is getting off.
The L.A. County District Attorney's office late yesterday declined to file a felony charge:
John Zajec, the head prosecutor in the Torrance office, said the street art didn't rise to the level of a felony and therefore must be taken up by the misdemeanor-oriented City Attorney's office in Torrance.
He wrote, according to City News Service:
… It is the conclusion of the District Attorney's Office that this is not a matter for which felony prosecution is appropriate. The matter is therefore referred to the Torrance City Attorney's Office for consideration of possible misdemeanor prosecution.
Strange, since the L.A. County District Attorney hasn't been shy about prosecuting street artists as felony criminals in the past.
The issue here seems to be the value of the damage. Prosecutors said it cost “several hundred” dollars to un-hate the graffiti. Zajec of the D.A.'s office said (via CNS):
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. 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 Torrance City Attorney's office said it hasn't received the case yet, City News reported.
If this ends up being a single, misdemeanor violation for suspected vandalism, Castro would end up with a virtual ticket.
Tastes like victory!