Police in Ontario are investigating as a potential hate crime the defacing of a monument dedicated to Ukrainians who served in the Nazi SS.
A cenotaph in Oakville’s St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery near Toronto was graffitied at some point last month with the words “Nazi war monument,” prompting police to open an investigation because the “incident occurred to a monument and the graffiti appeared to target an identifiable group,” according to a constable who spoke to The Ottawa Citizen.
Halton police are investigating a "hate crime" after someone spray painted "Nazi war monument" on a Nazi war monument in Oakville. https://t.co/0SbvcDg1pD
— Andrew Russell (@andrewglobal) July 17, 2020
According to the section in Canada’s Criminal Code pertaining to hate crimes, anyone convicted of publicly inciting hatred against “any identifiable group” is liable to imprisonment:
Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
The controversial monument, which was likely erected sometime in the 1980s, according to The National Post, commemorates the Ukrainians who allied with Germany against their Soviet occupiers by joining the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS, also known as the 1st Galician. Most of the division was wiped out by Stalin’s Red Army during the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive, which succeeded in driving German troops from Ukraine and eastern Europe during the summer of 1944.
Bernie Farber of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network told The Ottawa Citizen that the Halton Regional Police are misguided regarding what they are deeming a hate crime. Conceding the act was a “destruction of property for sure,” he claimed the graffiti on the cenotaph was “far from” a hate crime and not worthy of prosecution.
The investigation in Canada comes as vandals in the United States continue to destroy statues of historical and religious figures, often with impunity. Protesters in Lafayette Park across from the White House failed in their attempt last month to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson, though statues of Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were ripped down in Portland, Oregon. A descendant of Jefferson recently wrote an op-ed in The New York Times calling for his statue in the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., to be replaced with one of Harriet Tubman.
The mayor of Richmond, Virginia – the former capital of the Confederacy – recently mandated the removal of all city-owned statues depicting Confederate figures, including those along its famed Monument Avenue.
Vandals have escalated their desecrations recently, moving on to churches and religious icons. Over the past week, statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary have been violated and several churches have been burned. St. Joseph Church in New Haven, Connecticut, closed temporarily after “satanic symbols” were plastered on its front doors.
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