Saturday, July 20, 2024

Victoria staff to remove part of BIPOC mural at request of police chief, activists say


Part of a mural that was originally celebrated by Victoria city officials when it was first created in Bastion Square is set to be taken down.

Earlier this month, a group of 17 Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) artists contributed to a mural of the words ‘More Justice More Peace’ painted on the ground at Bastion Square.

“When the mural was first put on the ground, city officials messaged me and congratulated me on a successful day. They said it was a beautiful mural and they were all very pleased with the finished product,” said Charity Williams, architect of the painting event that took place on August 14.

However, now Williams has been informed that city staff will remove a part of that mural upon request from Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.

“Its [sic] come to our attention that All Cops Are Bastards is incorporated into the More Justice More Peace mural,” reads an email to Williams from Nichola Reddington, a staff member at the Parks, Recreation and Culture Department City of Victoria.

“I am not sure if this was intentional or not but I have been asked by the Chief of Police and City Manager to have this removed immediately.”

The section of the mural in question is the letter ‘S’, and contains the letters ‘A’, ‘C’, ‘A’, and ‘B’ spread out within. Taken together, the letters spell the acronym, ACAB, largely understood to mean ‘All Cops Are Bastards’ in activist circles.

Each letter was painted by a different BIPOC artist when the mural was first created.

Williams and fellow activist Vanessa Simon say they were not informed of any law or bylaw that was being broken by the design of the letter.

However, in a follow up email, Reddington stated that at noon on Thursday, city staff will be removing the design themselves.

“What we’re planning on doing is going down there and [having] a peaceful observation. We do feel that it’s minimizing what we’re all about. The letters could have meant anything. It’s taking away the whole freedom of speech and freedom art aspect of the project,” said Simon in a phone call with Victoria Buzz.

For her part, Williams says she plans to physically place herself on a part of the mural to block staff from painting over it.

“I would [ask] the Chief of Police to acknowledge the part they play in the system and what they have done in different BIPOC communities, and know that people are upset and people are going to express how they feel and it’s not up to you to decide whether that is seen or heard,” said Williams.

Victoria Buzz has reached out to VicPD and City of Victoria staff for comments and clarification. Neither were able to respond by the time of publication.

More to come.

Brishti Basu
Former Senior Staff Writer and Content Manager at Victoria Buzz.

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