Nelson RCMP investigate swastikas near popular recreation area

Nelson RCMP are investigating after someone painted a set of swastikas along a public road near a popular recreational area.

3 painted swastikas and 'white power' sign have since been removed

The signs dot a gravel road leading to a popular recreational area outside of Nelson, B.C. (Bob Keating/CBC)

Nelson RCMP are investigating after someone painted a set of swastikas along a public road near a popular recreational area.

The first swastika — painted bright blue — was noticed this spring along the gravel road leading up to the Morning Mountain trail area. Another one was further down the road.

A third swastika with the phrase "white power" was found on land near an auto wrecker's yard.

Local resident Veronica Elias said she saw the signs while out walking her dog but thought ignoring it would be the best course of action.

"[It] was pretty horrible. I also think the more attention you give the more power it has. So I [ignored] it," she said.

The RCMP say it is difficult to find out who is painting the signs without catching them in the act. (Bob Keating/CBC)

Elias wasn't alone in ignoring the graffiti. Hundreds of people would have noticed the signs on any given weekend driving to Morning Mountain.

Yet Ramona Faust, the director at the Regional District of Central Kootenay, only heard of the signage after CBC News contacted her about it.

"The Kootenays [are] a place where new residents have always been welcome. It's a diverse culture. I feel very sad that someone feels there's one race that feels it's entitled to be here and others are not welcome. It makes me very sad because it's public property and no one has the right to deface public property with hate," she said.

The district has since painted over the swastikas on the public road.

The auto wrecker has also removed the sign. The business owner told police that it was the second time some of his property has been tagged with swastikas over the last several years.

Investigation opened

RCMP Sgt. Darren Oelke said it's almost impossible to find out who is painting the signs without catching them in the act, yet he has opened up a file.

"I know the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us the freedom of expression and freedom of speech but there has to be a determination where that crosses the line. If there was charges to be laid in something like that, it would be Crown counsel that would decide," he said.

Faust says she isn't sure what else the district can do to prevent such vandalism other than promptly removing the graffiti when it is reported.

"I don't really know what the regional district's role is other than perhaps promoting tolerance."

With files from Bob Keating