Ottawa mural defaced
Published Thursday, September 24, 2015 5:19PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 24, 2015 6:38PM EDT
It’s the kind of painting an artist would rather not do.
Kalkidan Assefa, with roller in hand, was forced to paint over his own mural. He had no choice after someone else had already defaced it.
“It’s obviously upsetting” he said while applying a coat of solid white.
His original work had been a memorial to slain transgender women of colour. He painted it on construction plywood on the walls of a building at Bank and Slater Streets during Capital Pride.
The mural included the phrase “all black lives matter,” which appeared to make it a target. Sometime overnight someone defaced it with phrases like “all lives matter,” “racist bullsh**” and “you’ve been warned.”
“I think there’s a certain element, racist element, in Ottawa that doesn’t like the form of expression that we’re using,” says Assefa.
This is the second time the mural has been defaced, and the fourth time a visible minority-themed mural has been vandalized in Ottawa in recent months. A mural honouring Sandra Bland, an African-American woman who died in a Texas jail cell was vandalized on the “Tech Wall” - a legal graffiti wall on Slater Street. A mural showing solidarity between black and First Nations communities was also defaced at the same site.
And it always seems to happen in the dead of night. R.J. Jones says she and her friends were walking by the tech wall around 1am a few months ago when they came across who she describes as two white males defacing a mural. “I would say they were approaching (their) thirties,” says Jones. One was a little larger with glasses and another one had a beard. That’s all I saw.”
Catherine McKenney, Ottawa City Councillor for Somerset Ward, says the latest incident is heartbreaking. She says of course all lives matter. But some groups are obviously at higher risk for violence and social injustice than others. “If all lives did matter and everybody was equal we wouldn’t need these commemorations and we wouldn’t need these murals,” she says.
Ottawa Police are looking into the incident. Meanwhile Kalkidan Assefa remains undaunted, despite the obvious warnings left behind. “No, I’m not really concerned about that. I feel like whoever did this is a coward anyway.”