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Artist Banned From Chick-fil-A After Vandalism

Manny Castro Jr. pleads no contest to vandalizing a Torrance Chick-fil-A restaurant in August.

REDONDO BEACH, CA — A West Hollywood artist who admitted to vandalizing a Torrance Chick-fil-A restaurant just outside the Redondo Beach border with the words "Tastes Like Hate" in protest of the company president's comments against same-sex marriage pleaded no contest Friday to a misdemeanor vandalism charge.

As part of the plea, Manual "Manny" Castro Jr. was sentenced to three years' probation.

Castro, 31, was also barred from possessing any paint, paint brushes, spray paint, aerosol cans or vandalism tools outside his home, according to Torrance Assistant City Attorney Patrick Sullivan. Castro must perform 200 hours of community service, pay $400 in fines plus penalties and a $419 booking fee.

He also must stay away from all Chick-fil-A restaurants while on probation, Sullivan said.

In exchange for Castro's no-contest plea, a misdemeanor charge of possession of vandalism tools was dismissed. Castro was not in court for the hearing, and the plea was entered on his behalf by his attorney.

A restitution hearing was set for Jan. 9, Sullivan said.

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Castro painted the words "Tastes Like Hate" with the stenciled image of a cow holding a paint brush—a play on the restaurant chain's advertisements depicting cows encouraging people to eat more chicken—on an exterior wall of the restaurant at 18200 Hawthorne Blvd. in the early morning hours of Aug. 3.

Castro was arrested Aug. 8 after giving a statement to the Huffington Post claiming responsibility for the vandalism. Police were first tipped off to the vandalism—and Castro's subsequent confession—by local media organizations.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office declined to file felony charges at the end of August. John Zajec, the head prosecutor in the Torrance DA's office, said it cost the restaurant's owner "approximately several hundred dollars" to have the affected portion of the wall painted over.

"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 in a charge worksheet. "The suspect has acknowledged his wrongdoing and offered to make restitution."

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

Castro, who is gay, told the Huffington Post in a second interview that 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 DA's office also noted that an unidentified second person may have been involved in the vandalism.

—City News Service contributed to this report.

Previously:

  • 'Tastes Like Hate' Painted on Wall at Chick-fil-A
  • Chick-fil-A Vandalism Suspect Arrested
  • DA Declines to File Felony Charges in Chick-fil-A Vandalism Case (Updated)
  • Arraignment Set for Chick-fil-A Vandalism Suspect
Pass the liver November 11, 2012 at 05:08 PM
He was to much of a coward...thats how taggers work..at night..when dark. Hide there face you know just like anyother crimial's...
Pass the liver November 11, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Your silly...go have another drink...
Pass the liver November 11, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Thanks for that Fred...Im going for lunch there today for the 1st time...all thanks to you..
Nicole Mooradian November 11, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Hi everyone, I have deleted multiple comments that violate our Terms of Use. While we appreciate a good discussion at Patch, we ask that you please keep it civil and refrain from name-calling. Thank you!
Anton November 11, 2012 at 09:14 PM
" people calling the vandalism a "hate crime," Zajec noted that "the record does not establish the suspect was motivated by religious hatred.">> A hate crime does not have to be religious, it could be against race or lifestyle meaning if someone beat this guy up for being gay. It could be religious, this guy did this act of vandalism based on the owner of Chik-fil- religious belief on gay marriage. I have to disagree with this vandal though, it is not hate if you don't believe in gay marriage. There is something in this country called separation of church and state, if the core belief of a church is that marriage is between a man and a woman then the government has no right to force them to marry gays. If the federal Gov. says gay marriage is legal then gays can be married at the court house and have a legal marriage but they should not force any church to go against their core beliefs.

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