No charges or ticket for man accused of urinating on Komagata Maru Memorial
The mentally ill accused "needs the health system, not the justice system," says VPD chief Jim Chu
The man who was photographed urinating on the Komagata Maru Memorial in Coal Harbour has made a formal apology, but he will not be facing charges or receiving a ticket.
The memorial commemorates an incident in 1914 when Canadian immigration officials refused to let 376 Indian immigrants disembark the Japanese charter ship Komagata Maru. The ship was anchored in Vancouver harbour for over two months before ultimately being sent back to India.
Vancouver police chief Jim Chu and mayor Gregor Robertson held a news conference Thursday afternoon to explain the decision.
I am sorry for what I did that day at the monument. I didn’t want to hurt anyone.- signed apology from suspect
Chu said that the police took the incident as a serious matter and assigned it to their hate crime investigator.
After locating and interviewing the suspect, police decided that their only recourse was a bylaw ticket — but given the man’s mental state, ultimately chose not to issue a ticket.
“He is an illicit drug user and would fit into the category studied recently in the Downtown Eastside of a severely addicted mentally ill person,” explained Chu in a prepared statement. “This suspect needs the health system, not the justice system.”
Chu went on to say that members of South Asian community were supportive of the VPD's decision.
Mayor Robertson said he's confident progress has been made in an effort to satisfy community concerns.
"I think ultimately the goal here is to deal with the impact on the community and the desecration of a very important memorial. We need to address that head on."
With files from the CBC's Stephanie Mercier and Steve Lus