Crews work Friday morning to remove graffiti that was spray-painted on the new rainbow crosswalk in Uptown White Rock. (Aaron Hinks photo)

1 of B.C.’s newest rainbow crosswalks vandalized

Slur spray-painted on pride-themed walkway overnight in White Rock; removed by Friday morning

  • Aug. 3, 2018 9:08 a.m.

The rainbow crosswalk that was painted in the Five Corners neighbourhood in White Rock last month – and defaced with a tire mark less than 24 hours later – has been vandalized again, this time with spray paint.

Over night Thursday, a derogatory term – spelled incorrectly, for the record – was spray-painted in black across the crosswalk, which was installed in the city last month as a message of equality and inclusiveness, and officially unveiled last Friday – along with the raising of the pride flag at White Rock City Hall.

White Rock RCMP Const. Chantal Sears said police discovered the vandalism shortly after midnight Friday, and attempted to remove the paint with the help of the White Rock Fire Department. Sears said the fire department was unable to remove the paint.

City crews were on-site Friday morning with a pressure washer to remove the graffiti, and it was removed before 9 a.m.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin – who attended the official unveiling of the crosswalk last week – told Peace Arch News Friday that the vandalism comes from a combination of “ignorance and fear”

“People are forgetting that it’s a symbol of the LGBTQ community, but more than that, it’s a symbol of acceptance for everybody, including persons with disabilities, First Nations, and anybody who has been – at one point in time – marginalized. That’s really what’s so disappointing about it, what a shame.”

When city funding for the crosswalk was announced in May, Baldwin said he received emails from residents all over the Lower Mainland congratulating the city on the project.

“What happens, I guess, it just takes one person or a small group to undue the work, somewhat, of a much larger group. That’s just the way life is, I guess. We all have to work through this kind of stuff and know that the greater number of people, by far, are accepting and supporting. You just get these groups of people who are scared, ignorant and they just don’t get it,” Baldwin said.

baldwin

The idea of the rainbow crosswalk was first pitched to city council by White Rock BIA president Ernie Klassen, real estate agent Louise McKnight and her mother-in-law Ruth Allard.

Klassen told PAN Friday that the vandalism is not indicative of the greater White Rock community.

“I think it’s horrible, especially given what was spray painted. Apparently, there was swastikas spray-painted,” Klassen said. “It’s a sad statement that people would go to that kind of level. We have had very, very huge support in the community for having the crosswalk painted and what it represents. It represents inclusiveness, it’s not only for the gay and lesbian community.”

Rainbow crosswalks have been vandalized in Surrey, Cowichan, Salmon Arm, Fort Langley and Comox Valley as well.

“Like in every other community, we sort of expected that something might happen,” Klassen said.

The Surrey rainbow crosswalk, painted at Old Yale Road and University Drive in June, was vandalized after someone splashed paint on it. Klassen said he considers that incident an act of vandalism, but considers the White Rock graffiti as a hate crime considering what was painted.

“It’s quite another thing when you’re putting a swastika on there. The swastika represents one of the darkest hours of our history, both in the general population but also in the gay community… There were thousands of gay people that were murdered along with the Jewish population,” Klassen said.

wrcrosswalk

“Vandalism versus a hate crime, is how I see this.”

Klassen said the vandalism “brings back memories” of the Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, where 49 people were gunned down.

“It only takes one person,” Klassen noted.

Klassen said organizers alerted police before hosting a dinner/dance pride party last Saturday, held at White Rock’s Elk Hall.

“We wanted to feel safe. While the majority of the time we feel totally safe in our neighbourhoods, there is still that little thought on the back of our mind that something could happen,” Klassen added.

“Having said all of that, we are not one bit regretting putting forward this crosswalk. We want to symbolize that we are an open, inclusive and tolerant society in White Rock.”

The City of White Rock released a statement following the incident at approximately 11:30 a.m. Friday.

“The City is disappointed that such an act has occurred as the message of the rainbow crosswalk is to cultivate kindness, respect, and inclusion. This incident is under investigation and witnesses are asked to contact White Rock RCMP’s Detachment line at 778-593-3600,” the statement said.

Just Posted

Langley’s Hong takes silver in Winter Games vault

The Langley athlete completed a tricky move in competition to clinch the podium.

Injured nurse back in the saddle after horse riding accident

Keya Milaire has been recovering from an accident that occured on May 24.

Virtual reality comes to Aldergrove

The library hosted a “Virtual Reality Day” Thursday as a part of a strategy to promote tech-literacy.

Portable heaters caused spike in Chilliwack fire calls

Check on heaters to make sure they’re not too close to combustibles, Chilliwack Fire officials say

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Regulator’s report, coming today, unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline battle

The Trans Mountain pipeline will remain a controversial topic both in the political ring and out

Most Read