Victoria police chief says message on city-sponsored mural 'deeply disrespectful' to police
VICTORIA -- Victoria's police chief is calling a portion of a city-sponsored anti-racism mural "deeply disrespectful" to the city's police force.
On Aug. 14, more than a dozen artists gathered in Bastion Square to paint messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and raise awareness generally about racial inequality in Canada.
With sponsorship from the City of Victoria and local businesses, the words "More Justice More Peace" were painted in large letters on the square.
But inside one of the letters appeared the acronym "ACAB," which stands for "All Cops are Bastards."
Victoria police Chief Del Manak says he was made aware of the message Wednesday night and raised his concerns with Victoria's city manager.
"The inclusion of ACAB is deeply disrespectful to the women and men of the Victoria Police Department," Manak said in a statement Thursday evening.
"I fully support the spirit behind the mural as I understand it to have been originally presented to the City of Victoria," the police chief added.
"The Victoria Police Department, and I personally, stand behind the call for “More Justice, More Peace.” Justice is not justice if it does not include all members of society. Excluding one group through harmful words seems counter to the very spirit of the mural itself."
The mural-painting event was organized by Victoria resident Charity Williams, an Olympic bronze medalist and member of Canada's national women's rugby team.
On Thursday, Williams shared a statement on her Instagram page on behalf of two artists involved in creating the offending letters on the mural.
Under the heading "Why We Say ACAB," artists Kaiya Jacob and Karmella Benedito De Barros say, "If we can say we contributed to the conversation of police abolition here locally with four little letters, then we did our job sure enough."
They add: "To those looking to vandalise our work, we are not willing to compromise our art for your comfort."
Manak says he is committed to strengthening the police force's relationships with people of colour in Victoria and Esquimalt.
"My understanding is that the City of Victoria will continue to work with the group that created the mural to seek an inclusive outcome," Manak said. "I fully support these efforts."
City officials tell CTV News the city will not be taking any immediate action to change the mural but will instead meet with the artists and the African Heritage Association of Vancouver Island next week.