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Gay Chick-fil-A vandal won't be charged for defacing Torrance restaurant wall

NBC LA

The words "Tastes Like Hate" were painted on a Torrance Chick-fil-A in the same design as one of the chain's ad campaigns.

Manuel Castro, the gay artist who protested Chick-fil-A's stance on same-sex marriage by defacing a wall of one of the chicken franchises, seems to be getting off the hook.

The L.A. County district attorney's office said Wednesday that they are declining to press charges on Castro, in part, because he admitted to painting the words "Taste like hate" on the side of a Chick-fil-A in Torrance.

"The amount of the damages appears to be relatively minor involving repainting a section of stucco wall approximately 15 feet long by 12 feet high. The suspect has acknowledged his wrongdoing and offered to make restitution. Finally, the record does not establish the suspect was motivated by religious hatred," John Zajec, the head prosecutor in the Torrance office, wrote. 

Castro, 30, isn't quite a free bird just yet, however.

Zajec added, "It is the conclusion of the District Attorney's Office that this is not a matter for which felony prosecution is appropriate. The matter is therefore referred to the Torrance City Attorney's Office for consideration of possible misdemeanor prosecution.''

The drama began last month when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a radio interviewer that the popular chain, known for being closed on Sunday for religious reasons, was committed to traditional marriage.

“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" said Cathy. 

Later, Cathy told the Baptist Press that the franchise is, “...very much supportive of the family – the Biblical definition of the family unit.”

Those interviews sparked protests and counter-protests. Restaurants were flooded with customers who bought chicken sandwiches at the eateries to support the company's position on the controversial topic. This sparked counter-protests two days later when  same-sex marriage supporters participated in "National Same-Sex Kiss Day" where people posed for photos in front of Chick-fil-As and smooched. 

All of the protests meshed with Castro's desire for more conversation about same-sex marriage.

 "My statement painted on the side of the Chik-Fil-A in Torrance was not born out of hate. It was born out of frustration," Castro wrote in a statement after he vandalized the wall on Hawthorne Blvd. "It was meant to further a discussion about tolerance and acceptance. My Facebook wall was simply not large enough to do this."

Castro added, "I am happy to pay for the costs of repainting the wall, but I am not -- nor will I ever be -- happy to sit quietly at the back of the bus."

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