A Brighton Park man has been charged with spray-painting graffiti on Ald. Raymond Lopez’s office, continuing a string of vandalism against the 15th Ward alderman’s property.
Antonio Torres was allegedly caught on surveillance video spray-painting the office Dec. 11 in the 4200 block of South Archer Avenue, according to Chicago police.
Lopez said the man was wanted for tagging much of the Brighton Park neighborhood.
“He was responsible for graffitiing almost a dozen other businesses up and down Archer Avenue,” Lopez said in an interview. “We ID’d him on cameras and from him bragging and boasting on social media about his destruction of private property. We will not tolerate this in our community.”
Lopez’s offices and home were hit by vandals four times last year in what he said was retaliation for his actions against gangs in his Southwest Side ward. He said this recent instance of graffiti wasn’t related to that retaliation.
In November, someone threw a brick through Lopez’s office when it was located in the 2700 block of West 47th Street.
His office was also vandalized twice in July, with bricks thrown through the front windows. That month, someone also threw a brick into Lopez’s Brighton Park home and set fire to a neighbor’s garage.
After those attacks, Lopez said he’d move his office to a new location.
Torres, 28, was arrested Thursday and charged with a felony count of criminal damage to government property and a misdemeanor count of criminal defacement of property.
In court Friday, prosecutors said Torres claimed he hadn’t known he was tagging an alderman’s office and said that he had picked the building because of its corner location.
In addition to surveillance footage, Torres, of Brighton Park, was identified through social media posts under his graffiti handle “Nore,” according to prosecutors, who added Torres has previously been convicted of a misdemeanor count of criminal defacement of property.
An assistant public defender said Torres was a father and had been working in retail for the past six months.
“I had no idea, sir,” Torres interrupted during his bond hearing when Judge Arthur Wesley Willis said it appeared Torres hadn’t intended to target the alderman.
“If that was the situation, your [bail] would be higher,” Willis said before setting bail at $3,000.
Torres was expected back in court Feb. 19.
Lopez thanked the police department and credited his office’s “teamwork” with police for leading to the arrest.
“This is important to me, not just about the graffiti to my office. We have to send the message that this kind of behavior is unacceptable,” Lopez said.