An enormous painting meant to raise awareness of inequalities faced by people of colour reportedly contained a very different message, according to one police chief. The new Victoria mural has come under fire after Chief Constable Del Manak of Victoria Police called it offensive. The reason? On one section of the artwork has "ACAB" painted on it.

On Friday, August 14, 17 artists collaborated on a city-sponsored mural in the centre of Bastion Square. The words "More Justice More Peace" were painted in big block letters on the ground.

However, it was only later that police noticed the letter S in the word "justice" contained the acronym ACAB.

"For those who are not aware, 'ACAB' is an acronym commonly held to mean 'All Cops Are Bastards', although recently, some groups have claimed it to mean 'All Cops Are Bad,'" wrote Manak in a statement on Thursday, August 27.

"The inclusion of ACAB is deeply disrespectful to the women and men of the Victoria Police Department," he continued.

According to Castanet, the city dispatched a crew to paint over the letters that same day; when they arrived, however, they found 30 to 40 artists blocking their way.

The two artists behind the project, Kaiya Jacob and Karmella Benedito De Barros, have since posted a response on Instagram.

Narcity has reached VicPD and mural organizer Charity Williams for comment and will update this story.

"When we added ACAB to our piece, we did so as a statement against the mistreatment that is placed upon Black people by the police," wrote the artists in the post.

Citing how policing "negatively impacts our Black and Indigenous communities in disproportionate ways," they continued that they'll "hold firm in our position against the police system as we see today."

"We do not wish to appeal to the white gaze," they wrote.

"To those looking to vandalise our work, we are not willing to compromise our art for your comfort."

Meanwhile, Chief Manak said he fully supports "the spirit behind the mural," but added that justice applies to all members of society — including the police.

"Excluding one group through harmful words seems counter to the very spirit of the mural itself," he said.

Currently, the city is talking with the artists involved to discuss how to proceed.

In the meantime, it seems the mural is safe; "no action will be taken while conversations take place," reported Castanet.

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