Hope turns to hurt after LGBT pride symbol defaced in Saskatoon
Black tire marks appear just 2 days after new rainbow crosswalks painted
Mayor Charlie Clark and the Saskatchewan Pride Festival are calling for a more inclusive and tolerant Saskatoon after a rainbow crosswalk painted as a symbol of LGBT pride was defaced with black tire marks.
The marks appeared on the crosswalk on Monday, just two days after it was painted on 23rd Street at the intersection with Third Avenue North on Saturday. Another identical crosswalk was painted one block away at 23rd Street and Fourth Avenue North.
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The crosswalks were installed as a partnership between the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatoon Pride Festival, which kicks off on June 9.
Hope turns to hurt
Saskatoon Pride Festival co-chair Danny Papadatos had hoped the new crosswalks would make everyone feel like they belong in his city.
He said seeing them defaced was a "slap in the face" for those who had worked hard to make Saskatoon more inclusive.
"I'm just deeply disappointed, you know, for those that have been looking to this symbol for the last 24 hours as a sign of hope — that this city is finally in the right direction," said Papadatos.
He said he started to notice backlash online, including social media comments about defacing the rainbow with tire marks, in the past two days after it was painted.
Police complaint filed
Papadatos has filed a police complaint, saying he hopes the person responsible is charged to set a precedent and condemn homophobia.
"It's a reminder of why we do what we do and why we keep marching and why we keep fighting and why we keep doing what we can to make sure that the kids of tomorrow don't get brought up in that same world," said Papadatos.
He urged the public to show their support for the LGBT community during the Saskatoon Pride Festival.
Police said they would follow up on the complaint but would not speculate on what type of charge would be laid over such an incident.
'It's very, very important that we stay together': Mayor
Mayor Charlie Clark condemned the act of defacing the crosswalk, saying the city's residents need to resist outside influences of divisiveness to build a stronger community.
"There's many forces right now, out there in the world, whether it's the politics in the United States or some of the politics we've seen in Europe, or some of the other issues that are divisive and that can pull a community apart," said Clark.
"And in Saskatoon it's very, very important that we stay together and we work to build relationships among people of many diverse backgrounds."
Clark said he was aware of homophobia and that some residents felt discomfort about LGBT issues, adding that he does not believe the majority of Saskatoon residents feel that way.
He urged the city's residents to "get to know one another and try to see each other as human beings."
"We won't be a strong, resilient, successful community until we can really send that message that intolerance is not accepted here in Saskatoon," said Clark.
City workers will be looking into the best way to remove the marks on Tuesday. A city spokesperson said it was not yet clear how much it will cost.