Racist graffiti appears at Marpole modular housing construction site
Residents protesting against temporary housing for homeless people say the graffiti has made them fear for their safety
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Residents of Vancouver’s Marpole neighbourhood who have been protesting housing for homeless people say they’re shocked and afraid after discovering racist graffiti painted on construction signs at the construction site of the future housing.
Lou Bingshin emailed to Metro photographs of the construction signs painted with swastikas and a racist, violent threat against Chinese people. The graffiti was discovered on Dec. 8 and has been reported to police, he said. One of the signs had previously been spray painted with the message “junkies out.”
Residents opposing the temporary modular housing for homeless people at the site say they're frustrated “by the negative rhetoric being hurled at their neighbourhood, perpetuated by Mayor Gregor Robertson and his decision to back housing supporters and idealistic students rather than address the real issues and engage concerned residents in honest and meaningful dialogue,” according to a press release.
Robertson previously condemned what he called “vicious comments” linking homeless and mentally ill people to crime and drugs.
His comments came after the first, emotionally charged protest against the project in October. The modular housing would house 78 people and be completed by February. Some residents, however, have opposed the location at 59 Avenue and Heather Streets because it is a block away from two schools. But others in the area have shown support for the housing with demonstrations of their own.
According to a statement from Robertson, the graffiti on the signs in Marpole has now been removed. Robertson also pointed out there have been a number of other hateful incidents recently in Vancouver. Here is his full statement:
“Recently, we have seen a number of incidents take place in Vancouver that threaten the inclusivity and safety of our city. From the burning of an image of the Israeli flag in protest to the Jerusalem debate this weekend, to the violent and unprovoked attack of a Muslim woman riding the SkyTrain last week, to some graffiti featuring hateful anti-Chinese racial slurs and swastikas in Marpole.
"The City of Vancouver strives to be a place where people from around the world are made to feel welcome, respected and safe. While we respect people’s rights to exercise their free speech in peaceful ways and value non-violent protest, the City of Vancouver has a zero tolerance policy on hate, racism and discrimination.
"We have followed up and removed the offensive graffiti in Marpole, authorities have made an arrest in the attack of Noor Fadel on SkyTrain, and we do not condone the burning of the images of Israeli flags because it was seen as an aggressive and threatening act that made some people feel fearful for their safety.
"We will remain very vigilant against acts that threaten the diversity, safety and inclusivity of our city.”