One of Tampa’s ‘Back the Blue’ mural organizers has a criminal history

He called the work historic.

One of Tampa’s ‘Back the Blue’ mural organizers has a criminal history
Screengrab via Mark Urbanski/Facebook

One of the people who led the effort to paint Tampa's hideous and widely mocked “Back the Blue” mural has a criminal history. 

On Sunday, Mark Urbanski celebrated the painting of the mural by posting about it on Facebook. “We made history today,” Urbanski wrote. “The first “Back the Blue” Mural drawn and painted in the United States at the Tampa Police Department HQ. Tampa Patriots!”

The mural, which many have pointed out looks more like “Bock The Blub” is a source of controversy because it was painted at a time when local and national protests are calling for police defunding, reform and justice for Black, Brown and Indigenous people.

Urbanski, 53, works for Lott’s Concrete and is an avid Trump supporter, according to posts on his Facebook. He's also a self-defined “patriot” from South Tampa with a troubling past. 

[Content warning: sexual assault.]

According to court records and previous news reports, Urbanski took a plea deal in a sexual assault case in the early ‘90s. 

A 1992 Los Angeles Times story details the time when Urbanski—then in his mid-20s—testified on behalf of the prosecution in a rape case where one of his friends drugged a 22-year-old Clearwater woman and repeatedly violated her with various objects as Urbanski and three others stood around, jeering and cheering.

“Urbanski said he took photographs,” the L.A. Times wrote. He later admitted to destroying the photos. “The ordeal ended only when Allison grabbed a statuette of Jesus off a bedroom dresser with the intent of using it in the next assault, Urbanski told the jury: ’I said, “No. We can’t have this. It’s sacrilegious.”’”

The rape charge was dropped when Urbanski—AKA ”Urb”, a Jesuit High School grad and the son of James F. Urbanski, a past president of the Tampa Tribune—agreed to plead guilty to evidence tampering and to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a rape. He enrolled in an alcohol-and drug-abuse treatment center in New York, and was sentenced to six years’ probation.

According to Hillsborough County records, Urbanski also still owes $17,500 from a closed 1992 felony case.

When Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reached out to Urbanski for comment, before any conversation could be had, he said, “I’m not interested in talking to Creative Loafing, thank you though.”

Other members of Urbanski’s “Back The Blue” crew have claimed on Facebook that the permit to paint the mural was approved by Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, but a spokesperson for the City of Tampa told CL that the permit had not yet been approved

In a statement to CL, Jane Castor said, “It’s unfortunate they didn’t see the permitting process through so that our community could participate in showing their appreciation for the brave men and women that service our residents every day.”

While it may seem strange that someone like Urbanski avidly supports the police, statistics suggests law enforcement also has a lurid history with sexual assault. In 2018, a report from Bowling Green State University discovered that police officers in the U.S. were charged with forcible rape 405 times between 2005 and 2013, at an average of 45 a year. Forcible touching was more common, with 636 instances. Other studies and data have suggested that 40% of police officers abuse members of their family. On average, family violence in police officer’s households is two-four times higher than the general population.

Opponents of the “Back The Blue” or “Bock The Blub” mural in Tampa are calling for its immediate removal through different petitions that can be found on change.orgConsequences for the illegal mural are still unknown, but so far, it looks like illegally shutting down a street is perfectly fine, but only if you “Back the Blue.” 

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About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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