Man admits to spraying white supremacist graffiti on Latina mural in Costa Mesa

A Dana Point man was sentenced to jail Friday after he pleaded guilty to federal vandalism and felony hate crime charges for spray-painting white supremacist graffiti over a mural in Costa Mesa that honors strong Latina women.

Daniel Alec Hotte, 28, was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of spraying the mural, entitled “Poderosas.” The 70-foot-long mural on the 3000 block of Killybrooke Lane was painted by an all-female crew led by artist Alicia Rojas in 2020 to honor eight strong women, including civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and activist and local heroine Modesta Avila.

In October 2022, Hotte was seen by several witnesses, scratching out the names of some of the women listed, as well as painted “white power,” and other white supremacist phrases on the painting.

Police were called but Hotte fled the scene before their arrival. He was arrested earlier this year as he arrived for a court date for an unrelated incident.

On Friday, Hotte pleaded guilty to his charges and was immediately sentenced to 180 days in county jail and placed on two years or probation. He was credited for half of his sentence for successfully completing a 90-day drug treatment program, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said.

District Attorney Todd Spitzer called the vandalism and defacing of a mural that celebrate remarkable woman “despicable and deplorable.”

“This was a cowardly act and incidents like this remind us that any attempts to divide our diverse communities will not be tolerated,” Spitzer said.

At the time of Hotte’s arrest, Costa Mesa officials said the city was a beacon for inclusivity that celebrates the diverse backgrounds of its residents.

Mayor John Stephens said the white supremacist graffiti “flies in the face of what we have achieved as a multi-cultural community.”

A GoFundMe page was set up by the artist to help cover the cost of removing the hateful words from the mural.

Additional reporting by Cameron Kiszla.

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