Herbst says vandalism act doesn't reflect community, artist calls it a 'hate crime'

Following the vandalism of the controversial Women of Purpose painting at The Trumbull Library Wednesday night, both First Selectman Timothy Herbst and the artist are speaking out.

Herbst is asking the vandal to come forward and turn herself in.

• More on the 'Women of Purpose' controversy

Herbst said: “All Trumbull residents should be outraged that someone would come into a public building and commit an act of vandalism.  Free speech does not allow for the destruction of private property.  I am asking the person or persons who committed this act to turn themselves in to local authorities.  If they fail to do so, the Trumbull Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Michael Lombardo, has promised a full and complete investigation that will identify and hold accountable the individual(s) who committed this act last evening in our public library.  Trumbull is a community that respects differences of opinion and diversity of thought and this individual act does not reflect who we are as a community.

Town Attorney Dennis Kokenos and I have been adamant for more than a week that the Town of Trumbull needed a complete and thorough indemnification agreement and proof of insurance for this and any other art collection featured in our library to make sure the Town of Trumbull was protected from financial and legal liability.  Last night’s incident is proof positive of this point.  Our job is to protect the town and we remain committed to doing so in the interest of all Trumbull residents.”

Robin Morris, the artist of the painting, which is among 33 on display at The Trumbull Library called the act a "hate crime" and said she was enraged.

"How dare someone desecrate a work of art that disagrees with their personal ideology," Morris wrote.  "Are we, as a society going to let these hate crimes persist? This issue transcends Trumbull and any local politics. It is a desecration of the beliefs of Free Expression that our Constitution affords us. If every time we disagree with a painting that we don’t like, we get to destroy it? There will be no more museums. If every time we disagree with a book that is controversial, we censor it?  Get rid of the libraries next! Little by little, we destroy the very thoughts and actions that have propelled ideas into inventions. Inventions into progress! And Progress is the only way for a society to survive!

"If you don’t like the art, that is fine by me," Morris said. "But if you don’t like your personal freedoms stolen from you..speak out!  It is me today..and you next!"

The painting owner Richard Resnick also responded to this crime, saying he feels sorry for the person who committed the crime and won't press charges for the cost of the damage. (See his comments in our original story).

Witnesses described the suspect who defaced the painting as a white female in her mid 30’s shorter dark hair, wearing a long teal skirt, with a black and white shirt, black overcoat, and a satchel or purse.

Those with information are asked to call Trumbull Police at 203-261-3665.