Police are investigating after somebody vandalized a likeness of a former Canadian Prime Minister. The Pierre Trudeau statue, which is located in a GTA park also named after Justin's dad, allegedly had its face spray-painted black. The incident comes amid heightened racial tensions in Canada and beyond.
York Regional Police tweeted on Thursday afternoon, June 18, to report that officers were looking into claims that the sculpture of Trudeau Sr. in Pierre Elliott Trudeau park in Vaughan had been vandalized.
Sgt. Andy Pattenden told Narcity that the incident is going to be looked into by specially trained hate crime investigators.
"At this time, a possible criminal charge would be Mischief, but if it was discovered that hate was a motivation for the vandalism, that would be a consideration for the courts at sentencing," he added.
YRP Sgt. Dave Mitchell told reporters, per CP24: "Someone spray-painted the face of the former prime minister and unfortunately, it is an act of vandalism and in these times I’m not sure what that accomplishes.
“It’s a disrespectful act and it’s vandalism.”
CBC reports the City of Vaughan sent crews to repair the statue and clean off the paint, which has since apparently been completed.
#BREAKING: York Regional Police tell CP24 their Hate Crime Unit is investigating after a statue of former Prime Min… https://t.co/FIvjQffEXQ— Kris Pangilinan (@Kris Pangilinan) 1592504321.0
Police say they are working to fix the damage to the statue.
A motive for spray-painting the face of the statue has not yet been established.
However, it comes at a time when several cities in Ontario, including Vaughan itself, are the subject of petitions to change their names as a result of their links to slavery and racism.
For Vaughan, that's because the city's namesake, Benjamin Vaughan, owned numerous plantations and opposed the emancipation of slaves. The city's mayor has requested that the annual Benjamin Vaughan Day be changed to honour John Graves Simcoe instead.
And it's hard to forget that back in September, old photos of Justin Trudeau in blackface surfaced to a whirlwind of criticism.
Meanwhile, recently in downtown Toronto, a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism was crashed by a man with his face painted black.
Right now, said Pattenden, police need help from the community and for people to come forward with any information.
Witnesses who may have information in the apparent blackfacing of the statue are asked to call 866-876-5423, extension 7441 with any information.