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Lansing — An unknown vandal defaced the Michigan Capitol, spray painting “STOP ICE” on the 140-year-old building shortly after midnight on the Fourth of July. 

Michigan State Police are investigating the Thursday morning incident “as best we can,” said Sgt. Jeff Held, who works on the Capitol detail. 

The building is monitored by security cameras, but they did not provide enough detail to immediately identify a suspect, he said.

The graffiti is the latest instance of local vandalism from apparent protesters of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency under President Donald Trump, who last month threatened to deport "millions" of undocumented immigrants who "illicitly found their way into the United States."

The Michigan Republican Party's headquarters in Lansing was spray painted with anti-ICE graffiti twice in June.

Those incidents remain under investigation by Lansing Police, a spokesman said Friday. The city department is seeking community help and asking anyone with information to call Detective Shawn Martinez at (517) 483-6856.

State lawmakers do not control federal immigration policy, but Michigan’s GOP-led Senate recently approved a 2020 budget plan proposing to withhold jail reimbursement funding for counties that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities "concerning the immigration status of an individual in the state."

It is "disappointing and upsetting that someone would choose to deface the Capitol building for any reason," said Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Republicans and Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake.

The vandal spray painted the protest message on historic sandstone at the base of the eastward-facing wall of the Capitol near the cornerstone marking the year construction began: 1872. The building, later designed as a National Historic Landmark, was dedicated and opened for use in 1879.

It is not immediately clear how much it will cost to clean the sandstone, which was shipped in from northern Ohio more than a century ago and was rehabilitated in 2015 as part of a major exterior renovation project.

A masonry contractor was expected Friday at the Capitol, said Rob Blackshaw, director of facility operations. The contractor will use “the right chemical and technology available to remove black spray paint from the porous stone," he said.

State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., an East Lansing Democrat whose district includes the Capitol region, wrote an open message to the unknown vandal on Facebook.

“You are not cool or a revolutionary,” Hertel said. “Instead, you defaced a public building, cost money in a limited budget that could be used to help poor people, and made some poor person have to come clean up your mess on a holiday weekend.”

Hertel has criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policies and is expected at a “stop separating families” rally at the Capitol on July 12.

It’s not the first time the Capitol has been the tagged with graffiti.  A 20-year-old man was charged in 2012 with spray painting stick figures on the building and “give art a chance” on a Capitol lawn war memorial.

Malicious destruction of a building is a crime and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the cost of the damage.

joosting@detroitnews.com

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