Officials, police, residents speak out against vandalized war memorial
Officials, police and Toronto residents want to see the perpetrator who defaced a war memorial on Remembrance Day caught and brought to justice.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Monday he was disgusted to hear about vandalism on the Victory Peace memorial located near the city’s waterfront.
The words “Canada will burn praise Allah” were discovered on the monument in Coronation Park on Sunday, hours after a Remembrance Day service had taken place.
“For someone to stoop to that level, to go after people that sacrificed their lives for us to be here, is absolutely sickening,” Ford told reporters during a media appearance.
Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney also released a statement about the incident.
“Minister Blaney condemns these cowardly acts of vandalism which have no place, especially on such an important day of national remembrance,” Jean-Christophe de le Rue, a spokesperson for the minister, said in a statement. “Those responsible should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
Police have asked a hate crime investigator to look into the vandalism.
City workers managed to scrub away the black lettering on Monday morning, but investigators are still trying to figure out who scrawled the message on the sculpture, which commemorates the end of the Second World War.
If the vandalism is declared a hate crime, the formal charge will remain mischief but the penalty accompanying a conviction will be much more severe.
“This is an identifiable group, the veterans should be respected. And that’s total disrespect for our sworn members and military members that have made that ultimate sacrifice,” said Det. Anthony Williams of the Toronto police.
That sentiment was echoed by Gord Pearce, a member of a Royal Canadian Legion branch in east Toronto.
“I think it’s just hoodlums that are doing it,” he said. “I don’t think they have respect for the country or Canada or what our soldiers have done for them.”
The Victory Peace monument features 50 words in 50 different languages, all of them meaning “peace.”
Sculptor John McEwen said it’s apparent that whoever defiled the piece did not stop to consider the meaning of the work.
“It’s a very stupid kind of vandalism because it ignores the real nature of the work, which is that it is a work about victory and peace,” he said.
Meanwhile, city residents also expressed their disgust with the vandalism.
“I think it’s horrible. There are people out there that are fighting for our country, fighting for a better world and to see stuff like this is horrible,” said Mark Xavier, a resident who jogs by the memorial every day.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Austin Delaney