Victoria Police Chief Del Manak is calling recent changes to the controversial More Justice, More Peace mural perhaps even more “offensive” than the piece’s “original anti-police rhetoric.”
The Bastion Square mural, first painted in August to draw attention to racial injustice, became the center of discussion after the acronym ‘ACAB’ – which stands for All Cops Are Bastards – was added to the design inside one of the letters.
After opposition from Chief Manak and lengthy discussion by Victoria council, the mural’s artists were asked to remove the acronym.
On Wednesday (Oct. 28) the artists gathered together and replaced the ‘ACAB’ acronym with an eagle feather and the phrase: “This letter has been censored by the City of Victoria influenced by the Victoria Police Department. In doing so, Victoria is contributing to the silencing of Black and Indigenous voices and experiences across this land.”
In a statement two days later, Chief Manak said he was “deeply disappointed in this outcome.”
“In my opinion, the divisive message contained in this artwork is inaccurate, misinformed and disrespectful,” he said, calling it “an affront to the women and men of the Victoria Police Department.”
Chief Manak said he acknowledges that systemic racism exists and must be confronted, but that “expressions of hate, exclusion and disrespect are not helpful.”
For the mural’s artists though, having to alter their original work only proves their point.
“BIPOC voices get silenced when it’s something that folks aren’t comfortable with,” said mural organizer, Charity Williams, speaking with Black Press Media earlier this week.
Chief Manak finished his statement by expressing his appreciation for “the countless number of citizens who have stopped to thank our officers or offer them their words of support and encouragement.”
-With files from Nina Grossman and Kendra Crighton
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