Black history mural in Sandwich Towne vandalized

A mural commemorating Canada's second Black detective in Sandwich Towne has been vandalized by graffiti, one month after a plaque honouring a slavery abolitionist went missing in the area.

A billboard depicting French history was also tagged with graffiti

Coun. Fabio Constate posted this photo to social media Friday showing the Howard Watkins mural in Paterson Park vandalized with graffiti. (Fabio Costante/Facebook)

A mural in Sandwich Towne commemorating Canada's second Black detective has been vandalized by graffiti, one month after a plaque honouring a slavery abolitionist went missing in the area.

Windsor police said they're investigating blue spray paint left on a mural dedicated to Howard Watkins first noticed by people in the neighbourhood on Thursday.

Community advocate Teajai Travis came across images of the vandalism on social media, and said it left him feeling disappointed.

"Those murals are extremely important in our community and our culture and our tradition," said Travis. "And the fact that they're in Sandwich Towne — which is such an important piece to to our history."

A series of murals depicting notable names in Windsor's Black history, such as Watkins, were moved early last year from the wall of a grocery store, which had closed, to their new location in Paterson Park. 

This is not the first time vandalism of Black history monuments have taken place in the area. 

In late March, a plaque honouring abolitionists and publishers Mary and Henry Bibb at Mary E. Bibb Park was stolen. No suspect was found and the incident was investigated by police as a theft.

Regarding this recent incident involving the Howard Watkins mural, Travis added it's too early to tell whether it was motivated by race.

"It could be the circumstances were just some young kids who don't know better being young kids. But the climate that we live in right now, we have to take every precaution necessary because it very well could be could be a hate crime."

Community advocate Teajai Travis, left, says it's too early to say whether this was a hate crime. Ward 2 councillor Fabio Constate, right, has committed to purchasing a replacement mural if needed using ward funds. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Coun. Fabio Costante said he learned of the graffiti late Thursday evening from a friend. The following morning, he checked the damage out for himself.

"As soon as I got home, I forwarded the pictures to city administration and have been working with our parks department to determine if there's a solution to wipe off the graffiti in the short run."

Members of city administration attempted to clear the graffiti on their own but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

Costante has since contacted the artists who rendered the Black history murals, he said, to find out if the Watkins mural can be cleaned and reinforced with clear coating so any future tags can be easily removed.

If that's not possible, Costante plans to dip into ward funds to pay for a replacement, he added.

"I was feeling extreme anger and frustration, because who in their right mind would would do this? This is only weeks after we lost the [Mary Bibb] plaque that was stolen," he said. "I was extremely frustrated and angry. I also felt a bit of sadness."

Across the street from Paterson Park, the back of this billboard was also defaced with graffiti. However, the French history mural that is normally displayed on the billboard is currently in storage — not in public view. (Fabio Costante/Facebook)

More graffiti was found on the back of a billboard which normally holds a French history mural, but that's currently in storage — meaning the French history billboard wasn't up at the time that the back of it was tagged.

The Black history mural in Paterson Park wasn't the only art defaced with graffiti. The back of a billboard across the street which holds art commemorating French history was also tagged — but the latter art wasn't up as it's currently in storage.

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.



Sanjay Maru is a reporter at CBC Windsor. Email him at


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