For the second time in less than two months, vandals have gone after murals dedicated to Black Lives Matter in downtown Ottawa. This can only be seen as an attempt to silence the movement and black voices within the Ottawa community.
This most recent act of vandalism, being investigated by the Ottawa police, was a tribute to trans women of colour, including the names of trans women who have been murdered. The words “racist bulls***,” “all colours matter” and “all lives, no double standard, you’ve been warned” were spray-painted over the mural.
City councillors have been calling on the police to deem this a hate crime. The hate crime division of the Ottawa police has gone on record as saying, “Police will have to consider, among other things, what the motive was behind the incident before ruling it as a hate crime.”
Hateful acts like this one are shutting down the dialogue necessary for Ottawa residents to understand the silence and erasure of queer, black and indigenous voices across Canada.
The artist targeted by this attack, Kalkidan Assefa, told BuzzFeed Canada, “There’s definitely a white supremacist element in the city of Ottawa. People want to deny it, but we face it every day.”
Assefa also told Metro News, “We have the names of these murdered people, and then you’re coming and writing ‘all lives matter,’ as if their lives don’t matter, all over their names.”
The fact is, as much as we may want to believe that Canada is some sort of racism-free zone, it is absolutely not, and these events prove that. While many across Canada (not just Ottawa) seem to be miseducated by what the Black Lives Matter movement actually stands for, acts like this one shut down any and all types of expression and dialogue created by the movement.
Some community members in Ottawa are standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter group and speaking out against the vandalism and attacks with the hashtag #NotMyOttawa.