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Cenotaph vandal suspect said he did it to protest firing of Don Cherry
TORONTO -- The 33-year-old man who allegedly sprayed graffiti on the cenotaph at Old City Hall said in a Facebook post he did it to protest the firing of Don Cherry.
On Tuesday morning, the words "ye broke faith" and “with us” were seen spray-painted onto two sides of the monument located in downtown Toronto at Queen and Bay streets. The words appear to reference the line, “If ye break faith with us who die,” from John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields.”
Officers with the Toronto Police Service confirmed they received a call regarding the vandalism at 7 a.m. on Tuesday. City officials were later seen power washing the cenotaph, removing the paint, in the noon hour that same day.
On Friday, police said they charged Thomas Christian Zaugg with two counts of mischief.
In a post to Facebook two days ago, the Toronto man said he vandalized the cenotaph in support of Cherry after he went on a controversial rant about poppies during "Hockey Night in Canada."
"You could have just have easily stood up for veterans and the forces by standing up for Don Cherry and clarifying what he was trying to say, instead of capitulating to a Twitter mob," Zaugg said. "If you were stronger moral leaders for our cities, I would not have been compelled to do this act in order to make the political statement perfectly clear."
He also said several active-duty members of the military had given him “their blessing” to deface the monument.
Speaking outside court on Friday after being granted bail, Zaugg said Cherry's firing needed "some type of response".
"I feel that Don Cherry getting fired on Remembrance Day for encouraging people to buy and wear a poppy needed some type of response," he said.
Zaugg said on Facebook he delivered statements to both Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Toronto Mayor John Tory after they condemned Cherry’s comments.
On Friday, Tory’s office confirmed they had received a hand-written anonymous letter from a person who claimed they defaced the cenotaph.
"For this individual to say events with Cherry gives him an excuse to deface a monument dedicated to soldiers is not acceptable," Tory said Friday. "There can be no excuse for defacing a city monument."
In court on Friday, Zaugg refused duty counsel and said he would "speak for himself."
“Please do not condescend to me just because I’m not a part of your little club,” Zaugg told the court.
Zaugg was released on $750 bail. Among a number of conditions, he must see a doctor within seven days and may not have any paint in his possession.
Earlier this week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford commented on the matter on Twitter as well.
“Disgusting to see a monument to our heroic veterans disrespected by this shameful act of vandalism,” he tweeted.