Orlando Police arrest man in connection with LGBTQ+ mural vandalism

Lyra McKee mural in Orlando, Flordia.

Police in Orlando have arrested a man in connection with the vandalism of a number of LGBTQ+ murals, including one of celebrated queer journalist and activist Lyra McKee, who was killed during riots in Northern Ireland.

Authorities announced on Wednesday (13 September) to confirm that 34-year-old Matthew Michael Robinson had been arrested and charged with three counts of criminal mischief.

The murals outside LGBTQ+ support centres The Center and Zebra Youth, which celebrated gay pride and trans joy, were defaced on 25 August with homophobic graffiti, Nazi symbols, and an infamous anti-gay Bible verse.

One of the murals paid tribute to the 49 victims of the devastating 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.

In images posted to social media by The Center, the murals could be seen smeared in graffiti with words like “gay is not okay” and “stop the lies”, as well as “Leviticus 20 18”, a bible verse that calls homosexuality an abomination.

The murals had also been defaced with swastikas and Iron Crosses, as well as a sign for “Knights of the Black Sun” – a white nationalist and neo-Nazi.

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After word spread of the devastating destruction caused, the community around Mills Avenue rallied together to restore the murals to their former glory in the space of just 24 hours.

Now, just a few weeks after the vandalism, police are serving justice.

A statement from Orlando Police on the arrest read: “On September 13, 2023, Matthew Michael Robinson was arrested and charged with 3 counts of Criminal Mischief. We will be seeking enhancements for evidence of prejudice during the commission of these crimes.”

“We are still encouraging anyone who has information related to this incident to contact the Orlando Police Criminal Investigations Division or pass on their information anonymously through Central Florida Crimeline. This investigation is still ongoing.”

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