Hancock mayor charged for painting over Confederate flag in mural

by GEOFF FOX

The Confederate flag on a mural along the Town Tavern in Hancock was painted over early this month by the town mayor.

Part of a private mural honoring a Confederate general was painted over, kicking off a criminal investigation.

Hancock Mayor Ralph Salvagno has been charged with one count of malicious destruction and served a criminal summons after a local property owner asked police to investigate who had painted over a Confederate flag on a mural on her family’s property.

Salvagno was charged by the Hancock Police Chief on Thursday, June 11 with the misdemeanor.

According to police documents, the incident took place on Sunday, June 7, at 15 West Main Street in Hancock.

Hancock Police Officer Scott Wolff was contacted at the Hancock Police Department by the owner of the Town Tavern to report a malicious destruction of property to the mural on the wall both in front of and on the side of her business.

Wolff went to view the damaged mural, which is of a crossed Union and Confederate flags on the front and a Confederate flag and “Dedicated to Major James Breathed of the Confederate Army” under it on the right side.

The owner told Wolff the mural was painted to honor Breathed and stands facing a small park next to the building named for the Confederate artillerist.

According to the court document, the suspect painted over the battle flag and just crossed the Confederate flag with red paint. The Union flag was left untouched.

The portion of the saying under the flag reading “of the Confederate Army” was also painted over with red paint. The “Dedicated to Major James Breathed” portion was left untouched.

The owner stated she had recently received phone calls from several Main Street Hancock members requesting she take down the flag.

The document said Wolff checked the area behind the wall, as well as several trashcans around Breathed Park for evidence of red paint, with no results.

Chief Jim Robison assisted Wolff with the investigation.

Since the wall was directly adjacent to the sidewalk, Robison confirmed the wall was owned by the Town Tavern and not the Town of Hancock.

To confirm this, Robison sent Mayor Salvagno and Town Manager Joe Gilbert an email explaining the police had received a malicious destruction of property complaint.

According to police, within several minutes of sending the email, Robison received a phone call from Salvagno who alleged told him there had been discussion among the “Main Street Hancock Group” that the Confederate flag in the painting was offensive.

The mayor also alluded to the fact he knew who had painted over the flags, the document said.

According to police, Salvagno told the chief he would admit to painting over the flags.

Salvagno allegedly told police he painted the areas after dark on Wednesday, June 3.

Police said Salvagno told Chief Robison he should check the cameras because, according to the document, Salvagno looked at the camera near the wall and waved to it with his red spray paint can in his hand after he was done painting it. Salvagno also told Robison he would see his black SUV parked out front of his business, which is across the street from the wall.

Robison at the time Salvagno painted the wall, the camera in question was facing west and did not capture any footage.

During their conversation, Salvagno allegedly told Robison he believed the wall he painted was owned by the Town Tavern and not the Town of Hancock.

On Tuesday, June 9, Robison contacted the owner of the tavern building and informed her the mayor had painted the wall.

According to police, the property owner said her father had the wall built wall years ago and had the painting done. She was very upset someone would deface the wall by painting over the flags.

The owner was unsure what the cost would be to have the paintings redone and was getting an estimate. It is believed the damage is under $1,000.

In the document, Robison requested a criminal summons charging Salvagno with malicious destruction of property less than $1,000.

In an email, Robison said a court date has not been set in the case.

10 Comments

  1. George Spencer on June 12, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    Well, well, well. Mayor Salvagno, a public servant and highly respected town leader, defacing private property… I don’t suppose former Mayor Dan Murphy would have condoned much less tolerated such behavior from his protégé. I hope the judge throws the book at this pontificating blowhard and he’s forced to resign as Mayor of Hancock.

    • Bri Hop on June 19, 2020 at 3:38 pm

      I think Dr. Salvagno is a fine person and acted with integrity and principle in covering up this eyesore and offensive symbol of hate. It’s too bad someone didn’t do it sooner. It represents the false flag of treasonous states that supported the horror of slavery. Every time I drive by it offends and disgusts many and makes it seem like the town supports open bigotry, even though not everyone in town is that way. I am not buying that the owner, the painter, and the commissioner for this painting were not racist. Celebrating an artillerist who killed American citizens doesn’t seem all that savory. It’s too bad they couldn’t put something more appropriate on a wall facing main street. The wall and property look run down and unkept.

  2. Rhonda Lynch on June 12, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    This is my only opinion I think this world is getting ridiculous with this racism all the time it’s not about racism and I think the confederate flag is for the meaning of heritage it’s not about hate it all started with that boy going to that church killing the black people in that church well that was wrong he was a nerd for doing it but he had to put that flag in front of him and then all of a sudden it’s racism and then they took off this your hazards Dukes of Hazzard we been on for years and years and years ever since I was a kid but they have taken all the flag getting ridiculous it’s getting out of hand I think people need to grow up

  3. Rich Lavelle on June 12, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Where the heck is the city council in this? Your boss is the mayor. Where u at Tim Boyer. How about u guys do your job for once. Just one time. Really one time. It’s embarrassing. You won’t. Keep sucking that money every day. It’s just pathetic and I’d be embarrassed to even get gas in town. Really

  4. John Walker on June 13, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Congratulations Mayor Salvagno, you have just painted a giant bullseye on Hancock and I pray that this doesn’t get out to the agitators in DC and Baltimore who are just itching for a confrontation. Our humble and meager Police force will be woefully undermanned and outgunned while our illustrious Governor sits on his hands. With any luck, your ivory tower upon the hill will be spared as the bodies pile up along Main Street after armed residents defend their homes and businesses from these lawless profligates. The decent and appropriate thing for you to do now Dr. Salvagno is to fall on your political sword, resign and move out of Hancock.

  5. Sue on June 13, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    The mayor needs to resign. What kind of example is he setting for the community when he defaces property? If it was some kids or another adult doing this, they would I’m sure have gotten in more trouble than the so called Mayor. Only someone with a vicious streak that wants to insight total lack of trouble would do this. Is he trying to cause rioting, looting or possibly worse. Mayor Salvagno is a disgrace to the office he holds and also to the Town of Hancock

    • Bri Hop on June 19, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      I think Dr. Salvagno is a fine person and acted with integrity and principle in covering up this eyesore and offensive symbol of hate. It’s too bad someone didn’t do it sooner. It represents the false flag of treasonous states that supported the horror of slavery. Every time I drive by it offends and disgusts many and makes it seem like the town supports open bigotry, even though not everyone in town is that way. I am not buying that the owner, the painter, and the commissioner for this painting were not racist. Celebrating an artillerist who killed American citizens doesn’t seem all that savory. It’s too bad they couldn’t put something more appropriate on a wall facing main street. The wall and property look run down and unkept.

  6. PG on June 14, 2020 at 6:49 am

    The owners of the Town Tavern were also raided by the FBI years back. If they are dumb enough to repaint this again in front of their failed business, it will get removed again

    • John Walker on June 15, 2020 at 8:17 pm

      PG, the FBI raid on the Town Tavern is irrelevant to this argument… Stick to the point. The MAYOR committed VANDALISM! He defaced private property. Mayor Salvagno MUST RESIGN! Period! He no longer has the trust and confidence of the citizens of Hancock. He must go to Jail and he must go away…

  7. Methodist Prayer on June 22, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Even the savealot changed the bread wrapper ‽
    I walked by it and saw that flecks of paint were being picked off – which was defacing and no repair was done . I think this statement piece says blush.

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