ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix police officers repaint vandalized American flag mural

Jul 2, 2019, 4:34 AM | Updated: 7:11 pm

Phoenix Police Officers Mario Lozoya (left) and Matt Morgan (right) repainted a mural of an America...

Phoenix Police Officers Mario Lozoya (left) and Matt Morgan (right) repainted a mural of an American flag that had been vandalized with graffiti. (Photo courtesy of Officer Mario Lozoya)

(Photo courtesy of Officer Mario Lozoya)

Two Phoenix police officers were bothered by graffiti painted over a mural of an American flag in north Phoenix, so they decided to do something about it.

Officers Mario Lozoya and Matt Morgan were on patrol last Wednesday when they noticed an American flag painted on a block wall near 40th Street and Cactus Road had been vandalized. Someone had spray-painted the words “F*** Trump!” and “F*** ICE!” over the mural.

Morgan said it bothered him so much that he wanted to repaint the flag.

“The next day I come in and I decide I need to go find it,” he said. “I called Mario to remind me what street I saw it near and sure enough he said, ‘I’m at Home Depot buying the supplies right now. Meet me there.’”

Lozoya was buying paint supplies with his 13-year-old son when Morgan called.

“As we were talking to some of the staff there, additional community members had overheard and seen some of the photographs,” he said. “They managed to pitch in and pay for the product for us, which is amazing.”

Wearing their uniforms, Lozoya and Morgan set out to repaint the flag in 105 degree weather as cars were passing by.

“They were honking, screaming, ‘Good job! Keep it up! We love it!’” Lozoya said. “It was just a little bit of extra motivation to let us know that we were doing the right thing.”

Several neighbors in the area also came out to show their support. One neighbor brought a cooler filled with water bottles.

Neither Lozoya nor Morgan knew the history of the mural. Afterwards they learned it had been painted a day after the 9/11 attacks.

Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2004, Lozoya said the American flag “means everything” to him. He served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“That is the symbolization of our entire country – who we are, what we are,” he said.

Morgan also has a strong commitment to service. He earned the National Association of Police Organization’s “top cops” award in 2005, after he was shot three times during a traffic stop. He returned fire, hurting the suspect.

“Luckily my vest saved my life that day,” Morgan said.

He added they couldn’t have picked a more perfect time to repaint the mural, just days before the 4th of July.

“This is the best time to show respect for the flag and remind people this is not the place to put graffiti on,” Morgan said.

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Phoenix police officers repaint vandalized American flag mural