Police seek public's help after pro-communist graffiti scrawled at memorial site
Sign at Victims of Communism memorial site defaced with slogan, hammer and sickle
Ottawa police are seeking the public's assistance after a temporary sign at the future site of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism was defaced with graffiti.
Police say the vandalism, which they're calling an act of mischief, occurred sometime around Canada Day.
Photos show the words "communism will win" scrawled in yellow paint across a vinyl sign attached to a fence at the construction site in the Garden of the Provinces and Territories on Wellington Street. Alongside the words are the hammer and sickle, a symbol associated with Soviet Russia and the communist ideology, but which is seen as offensive and hateful by those who view it as a stamp of oppression.
"The initial reaction [to the vandalism] is sadness. The second reaction is the realization that this type of behaviour does nothing but just re-victimizes survivors of communism who found the safety of Canada and live here," said Ludwik Klimkowski, chair of Tribute to Liberty, the organization behind the memorial.
Legacy of oppression
Klimkowski said as many as eight million Canadians can trace their roots to countries that suffered under various oppressive communist regimes.
"The loudest voices are saying, 'Perhaps it's time to treat the signs and symbols of communism in the same way that we treat the swastika and symbols of oppression of the Holocaust,'" Klimkowski said.
The cost of the memorial is being shared between Tribute to Liberty and Canadian Heritage.
According to the National Capital Commission (NCC), the defaced sign has been removed and a new one will soon be installed.
Slated for 2021
The memorial was championed by the former Conservative government, which wanted it built next to the Supreme Court of Canada.
After widespread criticism, the NCC later rescinded its decision to allow the memorial to be built there, and instead approved the current site across Wellington Street.
The NCC said Thursday the memorial is slated to be completed by 2021, although that timeline may be adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ottawa police are asking anyone with information to call its central criminal investigations unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5166.