Calgary

Airdrie hit by 3rd homophobic vandalism incident this summer

A barn near the sign that welcomes motorists to the city of Airdrie, Alta., was spraypainted with a homophobic message sometime over the last few days — the third time the community has seen hateful graffiti this summer.

City's rainbow crosswalk was tarred and feathered last month

Graffiti that reads "LBGT VIRUS" was painted on the side of a barn alongside the Queen Elizabeth II Highway sometime in the past few days. (Rhys Courtman)

A barn near the sign that welcomes motorists to the city of Airdrie, Alta., was painted with a homophobic message sometime over the last few days — the third time the community has seen hateful graffiti this summer.

Jordana Baker with Airdrie Pride said it was frustrating to see something like this happen again.

"It's so visible — it's right off the highway, your eye is drawn to the welcome to Airdrie sign, and then you see it in the background — I think for us, it sends a pretty clear message about why it was there," Baker said.

A barn near the Airdrie sign was painted with anti-gay graffiti sometime over the last few days. (Rhys Courtman)

Last month, residents discovered that black tar had been spread out across the community's rainbow crosswalk, with feathers poured on top of it.

Just a week prior to that, the rainbow crosswalk had been vandalized with anti-gay slurs.

Baker said that after those two incidents, Airdrie Pride was overwhelmed by community support.

"We went from feeling, 'Oh no, this is what happened' to message after message after message from all over Canada, just really saying, 'Hey, we're here for you, this isn't what our community is about,'" Baker said. "It was absolutely incredible."

Members of Airdrie's LGBTQ community say they are not going to let hateful vandalism stand in their way.

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A rainbow pride walkway in the community was vandalized with tar and feathers.

Airdrie RCMP Cpl. Gina Slaney said nobody had yet reported the incident to RCMP.

"However, we are being proactive and are currently investigating. Members are in contact with the owner of the barn," Slaney said. "The owner of the barn is being cooperative and wants to spread positive messages."

Slaney said the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, and it was too soon to say if the incident constituted a hate crime.

Airdrie resident Sheila Riccetto said she has been in contact with the owner of the property where the barn is located. The graffiti has been altered to hide its original message and will soon be repainted.

The graffiti was covered overnight with a more positive message, and now reads "LGBTQ+" with a heart and a raised fist. (Submitted by Rhys Courtman)

"I drive by it all the time. It horrifies me that it's outside my community," Riccetto said. "I've got some time on my hands, might as well wrangle up some volunteers and go fix it."

Alberta has seen other hate incidents directed toward pride organizations in recent years, including a 2017 incident in which a pride flag in Taber, Alta., was shredded and later burned.

Calgary's pride crosswalk was also vandalized twice last year with hateful speech. Airdrie is located just north of Calgary.

With files from Sarah Rieger

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