Victoria Police Chief Del Manak is disappointed in the changes recently made to the More Justice, More Peace mural in Bastion Square.
The mural was first painted earlier this summer and generated controversy after it was discovered that the letter “S” contained the acronym ACAB, which stands for “all cops are bastards”.
City council recently voted to have the acronym removed, and for the original artist to choose something different to replace it.
The leader of the mural, Charity Williams, said on Instagram on Thursday that the artist collective came together and agreed on an arrangement for the mural. The revision was also approved by city staff.
“Now it’s going to be replaced with a statement of what happened here, the trials and tribulations we had to go through as a BIPOC community to even get to this place,” said Williams.
The new message, painted in the blacked-out “S” says “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.”
Manak, who originally asked for the ACAB acronym to be removed, says this new message is as offensive, if not more offensive than what was there before.
“I am deeply disappointed in this outcome. In my opinion, the divisive message contained in this artwork is inaccurate, misinformed, and disrespectful,” said the police chief.
“It is an affront to the women and men of the Victoria Police Department, who serve our communities with integrity, compassion, and honour.”
Manek says this message ignores the work that officers have done, and are doing to improve the community through inclusion and dialogue with everyone.
“I fully acknowledge that systemic racism exists across Canada. I, for one, am proud to be among the countless leaders across the country who are confronting this issue head-on. Expressions of hate, exclusion, and disrespect are not helpful as we try to move our country and our community forward,” said Manak.
The new revisions to the mural can now be seen in Bastion Square after it was completed on Thursday afternoon.