Sheriff's, DA's Office Employees Arrested for Vandalizing Black Lives Matter Sign

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing a Black Lives Matter sign in Thousand Oaks, California. The suspects included one who works for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and another employed by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office.

The sign—described as a tarp with the letters "BLM" painted on it—had been on display along a fence on Westlake Boulevard since May 31 and has been deliberately damaged on numerous occasions, the Ventura County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

The sign was put up by 19-year-old Maxwell Meyers. He fitted a surveillance camera to capture images of anyone damaging or removing the sign, the sheriff's office said.

Detectives recognized one suspect as Darren Stone, 60, after Meyers posted an image online.

He was captured on camera slashing the sign with a knife on June 13 and is accused of doing the same thing a second time in the early hours of June 19. He was off-duty during both incidents.

Stone received a misdemeanor citation for vandalism on Friday after detectives contacted him at his residence in Thousand Oaks.

BLM
Demonstrators deploy a " Black Lives Matter" banner near the White House during a protest against racism and police brutality, in Washington, DC on June 6, 2020. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

He has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of both a criminal and administrative investigation, the sheriff's office added.

Stone has been an employee of the sheriff's office since 2005. He is a non-sworn service technician at the pre-trial detention facility in Ventura, tasked primarily with supervising inmates within their housing areas.

"I'm deeply disappointed that one of our employees involved himself in this type of illegal activity, especially when this is an infringement on someone's First Amendment right to freedom of speech," Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said in a statement.

"We will not tolerate unlawful or unethical behavior by anyone employed by our agency. We hold our employees to the highest standards, and there will be consequences for this."

Craig Anderson, also of Thousand Oaks, was also contacted at his residence by investigators and received a citation for vandalism, the sheriff's office said.

Anderson, 59, cut the sign down and was going to remove it from the area when he noticed the camera and left, according to the sheriff's office.

In a news release issued on Saturday, Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten's office said they had been notified of Anderson's citation that afternoon.

He was off-duty at the time of the alleged incident.

Anderson had worked as a non-sworn investigative assistant for the district attorney's office for approximately four months, but has since resigned, it added.

The citation will be referred to the Attorney General's office in accordance with policy, the news release added.

The third man arrested in connection with vandalizing the sign was 58-year-old Jeffrey Moore, also of Thousand Oaks.

He was identified as the man who stopped his work truck on Westlake Boulevard on June 11, got out of the vehicle and spray-painted graffiti on the sign.

Moore was tracked down through the company name and phone number that was prominently displayed on his truck, the sheriff's office said. He also received a citation for vandalism.

The incidents come amid ongoing nationwide protests against police brutality and racism sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody late last month.