New Brunswick

Miramichi rainbow crosswalk defaced 6 times since May

Melanie Maltby Ingersoll has helped restore a defaced rainbow crosswalk in Miramichi more times than the public knows about, but this week after the sixth case of vandalism, she wanted to speak up.

A phallic symbol was spray-painted on the crosswalk this week, along with black scribbles

A phallic symbol spray-painted on a rainbow crosswalk in Miramichi will be removed Friday. (Mark Downey/Facebook)

Melanie Maltby Ingersoll has helped restore a defaced rainbow crosswalk in Miramichi six times — not three — since it was first painted in May.

The teacher at Miramichi Valley High School and co-ordinator of the school's Gender Sexuality Alliance Club, said most people in the area would only know about three acts of vandalism because the club didn't want to give the perpetrators too much publicity.

But it keeps happening, so Maltby Ingersoll​ decided to speak out.

The longest time nothing happened to the city's pride symbol in front of City Hall was a two-week stretch in June.

"It started out with burnouts and skid marks, then white paint and now, this is the worst yet," she said.

Vulgar messages 

Late Sunday or early Monday, a phallic symbol was spray-painted on the crosswalk, along with some black scribbles.

But that's not the worst, Maltby Ingersoll said.

Earlier, the club painted another crosswalk behind the school in May, as a practice.

'I don't feel I can be silent about it either. I feel so hurt by it, for the LGBTQ community.'- Melanie Maltby Ingersoll, Miramichi teacher

That one was defaced twice, the last time with vulgar messages and images, she said.

Maltby Ingersoll said the school has since obtained video footage of two of the vandals, which it will forward to police.

"I don't feel I can be silent about it either," she said. "I feel so hurt by it, for the LGBTQ community."

Positive response

On Friday, the sidewalk in front of City Hall will be repainted by the school club, members of the Kinsmen, the community's two high school football teams and the mayor.

Maltby Ingersoll said council, the Kinsmen and local firefighters helped with repainting in the past.

The Kinsmen also bought the paint.

Melanie Maltby Ingersoll says council, the Kinsmen and local firefighters helped repaint other defaced crosswalks. (Tony Traer)

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon said each time the rainbow was defaced and repainted, more people came out in support.

"Miramichi responds to these actions en masse with positivity and signs that they don't accept these actions as a community," he said.

​The city will celebrate its sixth Pride Festival this weekend and decided to kick it off by repainting the crosswalk on Friday afternoon, followed by raising the pride flag, he said.

"We as a community, as an LGBTQ community, need to ensure that we keep pushing to ensure not just equal rights under the law, but to allow people to understand that people in the LGBTQ community are part of our city here in Miramichi, and they are part of communities across the country,"  Lordon said.

"And are a wonderful, vibrant part of those communities."

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon says each time a rainbow is defaced and repainted, more people come out in its support. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

He hopes the vandals will "get the message," but said if the vandalism continues, the community will respond.

Council may consider adding more cameras to supervise the area, he said.

More crosswalks in province

Recently, crosswalks in Woodstock and Rogersville were also defaced, but it hasn't stopped communities from painting them.

Ricky Gautreau, mayor of Saint-Antoine, a small community north of Moncton, said members of council painted the stripes on the road near the village post office on Thursday morning.

Ricky Gautreau, left, the mayor of Saint-Antoine, paints the village's first rainbow crosswalk on Thursday morning. (Twitter/ Saint-Antoine)

Gautreau said he's not concerned about vandalism.

"And if there is, we will fix it," he said.

Gautreau said the village is participating in a rainbow crosswalk challenge that started in Cap-Pelé a few weeks ago.

Several other communities in the area have since painted crosswalks, among them Shediac, Bouctouche and Saint-Louis-de-Kent.

Gautreau said village council unanimously approved the decision to paint the crosswalk, and the residents are supportive.

We are telling them that they are welcome in our village.- Ricky Gautreau, mayor of Saint-Antoine

Almost everyone in the village, including himself, knows someone who is a member of the LGBTQ community, he said.

"What I think and what we think we are demonstrating is openness and support to our people that live in Saint-Antoine," he said.

"And today we are in 2017. We are telling them that they are welcome in our village."