Racist graffiti found in South Vancouver park


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Multiple trees in a South Vancouver park have been defaced with racist graffiti, including swastikas and the words ‘white power,’ and the Vancouver Park Board is “heartbroken and enraged.”

According to the board, the vandalism in Riverview Park was discovered and reported Saturday.

“Spray-painted swastikas, understood as the most notorious symbol of hatred, anti-Semitism and white supremacy, along with the words ‘white power’ were found on at least eight trees in the multi-racial neighbourhood of Marpole,” reads a statement issued Sunday.

“[We] condemn these abhorrent acts of racism in the strongest possible terms. We stand in solidarity with the Indigenous, Black, racialized, and Jewish communities targeted by these messages. These messages are intended to create shock, fear and division.”

According to the City of Vancouver, census data shows, 67 per cent of people who live in Marpole are members of a “visible minority group,” 54 per cent are immigrants, and 58 per cent speak a first language other than English. The neighbouring area of Oakridge is described as “hub for the city’s Jewish community.” The Musqueam First Nation is adjacent to South Vancouver.

Crews were sent to remove the graffiti Sunday.

“We extend our regrets to the residents and visitors of Riverview Park, including families and children accessing the nearby playground, who were exposed to these messages, and we acknowledge the park crews who are in the process of safely removing the hurtful graffiti. We also acknowledge this as an act of disrespect to the natural world on the Musqueam territory,” the board writes.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung says the defacing of these trees continues a troubling trend in Vancouver where hate-motivated incidents are on the rise.

“It’s hard to find the words. It just it makes me so angry. It’s so sad for our Jewish community, and it’s not an isolated incident,” she says.

In 2019, she brought a motion to council urging action on anti-Semitism that pointed to data showing an increase in reported hate crimes targeting the Jewish community nation-wide. That motion also noted 142 hate crimes were investigated by the Vancouver Police Department that year.

Data for 2020 shows that number nearly doubled — rising to 280 in 2020.

“It just is so disheartening and so sad that, in the midst of the global pandemic when we should be fighting to sort of for everybody’s health and safety, we’re seeing these incredible incidents of hate and vitriol against vulnerable sectors of our community,” Kirby-Yung says.


The responsibility for taking action to combat hate is collective, she says.

“We need to all stand up and call out any incidents of hate when they happen against any of our communities, whether it’s our Jewish community, our Asian community that we’ve seen during COVID or our LGBT community with a homophobic preaching last summer in the West End,” she says.

“When one community is targeted with hate it never ends with that community.”

Kirby-Yung would also like to see council reconsider a motion she brought forward in June of 2020.

“I want to see the city take some leadership on this. I did bring forward a motion almost a year ago now, for the city to move forward with an anti-racism strategy. Council didn’t feel that that was urgent at the time, and referred that back to staff. We have seen, sadly, since then just increasing incidents against a number of our communities and is not okay,” she says.

“Hate can’t wait. It’s been too long. I know that staff are working on it but we need to bring some of that work back quickly. We need to educate the public, we need to stand up and show that the city of Vancouver does not tolerate this, and we will not tolerate this.”

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