Graffiti in front of Portland City Hall on Monday morning reads, “No one deserves to be out in the cold. No cap on the new shelter.” Police are seeking information from the public and the city intends to press charges for the vandalism. Michele McDonald/Staff Photographer

Vandals spray-painted graffiti across City Hall Plaza late Sunday or early Monday that targeted the plan to improve and expand housing for Portland’s homeless population.

“No one deserves to be out in the cold,” someone wrote in big black letters. “No cap on the new shelter.”

Graffiti on the granite paving stones included three body-shaped outlines sprayed in dark pink paint. A Christmas tree stands in the center of the plaza, which is on Congress Street in front of City Hall.

Portland police issued a statement Monday afternoon seeking help from the public to identify the culprits and making it clear that defacing public property is a crime.

“The city of Portland respects all opinions regarding policy matters, but we do not tolerate criminal acts,” said Lt. Robert Martin, a police spokesman.

“Defacing city property is not the right way to share your message,” Martin said. “The city does intend to press charges if a perpetrator is identified.”

The city has hired GraffitiBusters to help remove the paint. The cost of removal was unknown Monday afternoon, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said.

The City Council voted last month to delay a decision on the capacity and operating policies of a planned new homeless shelter until after a new councilor and new mayor were sworn in Dec. 2.

The shelter policy was on the agenda for the council’s regular meeting Monday night, Grondin said, but councilors were expected to postpone discussion until they hold a workshop on the issue.

Matthew Coffey, an advocate for the homeless who has run for City Council in the past, said the vandals should clean up their graffiti at City Hall Plaza. “There’s no need for this,” he said. “This is senseless vandalism.” Michele McDonald/Staff Photographer

Matthew Coffey, a homeless advocate who has run for the council several times, saw the graffiti Monday morning and said he believes the perpetrators should clean it up.

“There’s no need for this,” Coffey said. “This is senseless vandalism.”

Anyone with information about the graffiti is asked to call police at 874-8575.

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