Fringe organizers to hand out more stickers to combat poster vandalism

Organizers of the Hamilton Fringe festival are handing out stickers Monday afternoon after several play posters were defaced over the weekend.
Earlier versions of the Fringe sticker covered up Bible verses pasted on the poster for the play Coal from Hades. (HamOntFringe )

Organizers of the Hamilton Fringe festival are handing out "Love for all" stickers Monday afternoon to fight back against the defacing of several play posters over the weekend.

They've also been in touch with Hamilton police, who have taken a look at the vandalism, though the situation doesn't rise to the level of a hate crime.

Claire Calnan, the executive director of the festival, told CBC Hamilton on Sunday the whole situation is "very disheartening" but that the festival organizers have been "buoyed by the support."

Monday, Calnan met with Hamilton police hate crime detective Paul Corrigan, who went to take a look at the places where the posters had been damaged.

"It's not a criminal offence; we don't have a hate crime," Corrigan said. "It's certainly disturbing. We're keeping a file on it and we're getting all of the information that we can."

Posters for at least two plays featured in the festival, which runs through July 30, have been defaced by pieces of white paper bearing typed verses from the Bible and other messages, appearing to attack the shows' LGBTQ- and feminist-forward message and themes.

Corrigan said the same right that Calnan and play creators have to put up posters in the public posting area is shared by those with different messages. 

The difference would come, he said, if "it was advocating hate (crimes) or genocide or harm to somebody." Because the posters affected are hung on public poles, there is no room for a mischief charge in the same way that there might be if a building or private property was defaced, he said. 

"We've looked at all different angles on it," he said.

That said, Corrigan is still interested to find out who's behind the effort, and if they're willing, possibly set up a conversation between them and the organizers.

"I'd still like to know who's going to so much trouble," he said. 

The festival is handing out stickers for members of the public to use to cover the messages at 3 p.m.