SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. - A 17-year-old has been arrested and charged with vandalism after spray-painted messages, assailing the police in vulgar terms, appeared last month in South Salem.

The vandalism occurred between June 27 and 29, the Lewisboro police said. It was followed by a contentious Town Board meeting dominated by consideration of racial injustice and discussion of an official stance against it.

The Lewisboro spray painting incident came after nationwide protests erupted in May over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests, some of them violent, though most of them peaceful, have continued and spawned a backlash. 

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Reflecting that national experience, the debate in Lewisboro is also seeing pushback. Signs have gone up supporting the police and calling for the ouster of a town board member. Supporters on both sides have taken to social media to air their conflicting views.

The teen accused of vandalism, who was not identified and who is being treated as an adolescent offender, was arrested July 1.

Police charged him with third-degree criminal mischief but emphasized that their investigation remained open. “Anyone that may have any information that is pertinent to the investigation is encouraged to contact the Lewisboro Police Department at 914-763-8903 or Tips@Lewisboropd.com,” the police said in a statement.

Spray-painted declarations that “Black Lives Matter” and provocative, even vulgar, messages directed against police could be seen painted on streets and private property.

While the national BLM movement and its vocal supporters decry police bias and brutality, no one has charged the existence of either in the Lewisboro department. But Councilmember Jane Crimmins, who has written a draft resolution supporting town diversity and inclusion, has been targeted as being “anti-police.” 

Crimmins, in an interview, said she has no issues with the town’s police force. She was “grateful,” Crimmins said, for the service of the three patrol officers, naming each. Crimmins also had high praise for Chief David Alfano, saying, “I am very relieved that we have Dave...who is at the helm of our police department right now during these tumultuous times.”

Still, signs calling for her resignation or impeachment can be seen in public places around Lewisboro. Crimmins, for her part, said she will not resign. In New York, impeachment is reserved for state officials.

Going forward, Crimmins would like to see “an anti-racist resolution that we can, in fact, develop and vote on.” The text that she read at the latest board meeting was not acted on. Supervisor Peter Parsons said he generally favored the measure but would like some changes before the board votes on it. 

In addition to the resolution, Crimmins sees an opportunity to establish a town government committee to “use the national energy of what’s going on to address issues that have been long-standing—at the very least, anecdotally—for decades in this town.”

She has been collaborating with fellow Councilwoman Jennifer Castelhano on that committee.

While they will team to create the panel, Crimmins said, Castelhano “had absolutely nothing to do with the resolution that I brought forth” at the June 22 meeting.