Sep 13, 2013 6:47 PM by Chris Welty
Two days after the 9-11 memorial in Downtown Lafayette was defaced, a group is rallying around the suspect.
Salvador Perez remains behind bars tonight and is being held on $11,000 bond. He appeared before Judge Thomas Fredrick via video from the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. Perez is facing charges of criminal damage of a historic monument and two counts of trespassing. One count was for the September 11th incident and the other for a May incident. In court, Perez confirmed he is homeless and cannot afford an attorney.
Complete strangers are stepping up to help Perez.
As of Friday afternoon, more than 50 people "like" the Spring Sal Facebook page, showing support for Salvador Perez. Thursday, Crawford Comeaux created the page in hopes of raising more than one thousand dollars to bail Perez out of jail and pay for his legal fees.
"We feel like he wouldn't be punished or arrested had the content of what he created were it different," said Comeaux.
He says he doesn't necessarily agree with Perez's political statements, but believes his first amendment rights were trampled. "If it's done in a different context and you're ok with it, that's a legally and constitutionally allowed expression."
Comeaux questions why Lafayette Police haven't made more arrests. He says people have placed items showing their emotions at the 9-11 memorial just like Salvador Perez.
Lafayette Police declined further comment on this case. We went to Lafayette Criminal Attorney Alfred Boustany who is not working on this case. He says there are a lot of unanswered questions in this case.
"Was this an area where he was entitled to be in? Did he damage the monument?" asked Boustany.
He admits Perez's actions were offensive, but there is a fine line protecting the first amendment.
"The purpose of the first amendment of the Constitution is to protect the most offensive speech and conduct as long as it doesn't violate the law," said Boustany.
Lafayette Police are not saying if Salvador Perez is connected to a painting of a mouse on an "Ace of Spades" glued on several businesses in Lafayette earlier this year. The artwork was signed, dated and numbered. On the art, the name "Ace" is signed.
On the Spring Sal Facebook page, the group acknowledges Perez goes by the name "Ace." Also, employees at the Greenroom Bar in Downtown Lafayette say Perez's alias is "Ace" and he is selling artwork downtown.