The head of the West Shore RCMP has joined the Victoria police chief in calling for the removal of an anti-police acronym from a mural in Bastion Square.
“I recently learned that the acronym ‘ACAB,’ commonly known as ‘All Cops Are Bastards,’ or ‘All Cops Are Bad,’ appeared in a mural that was meant to convey the message ‘More Justice, More Peace,’” said Todd Preston, officer in charge of the West Shore RCMP in a statement. “While the message of ‘More Justice, More Peace’ is a welcomed one, the hate that was displayed by the use of ‘ACAB’ is not.”
As many departments, including the West Shore RCMP, have lost officers in the line of duty, Preston said the acronym was particularly disrespectful and hurtful to dedicated officers and their families.
“The divisive language used in this mural is not the way forward. If we want a safer community we must have meaningful dialogue inclusive of all people and groups in our society, including those wearing a uniform.”
Victoria Chief Del Manak issued a statement on Aug. 24 after he was made aware of the mural and expressed his concerns to the city.
“Justice is not justice if it does not include all members of society. In these divisive times, coming together in the spirit of inclusion is the only way to better our shared community.”
On Aug. 14, a group of 17 artists painted ‘More Justice, More Peace’ on the ground in the square, with artists assigned a letter sponsored by a local business. The City of Victoria also provided a grant to cover costs for the mural, a project that was created amid larger cries for racial justice across North America.
City of Victoria spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer confirmed the city’s arts and culture staff had asked for the acronym to be removed from the mural. The letters ‘A.C.A.B.’ were not included in the original concept for the piece, he said.
While there is a range of interpretations for the term, the acronym is commonly known to imply that police forces are corrupted by power and have historically and continually enforced laws that further marginalize people of colour and other groups.
Charity Williams, who orchestrated the painting event, said she received an email Aug. 27 requesting a portion of the mural be removed. Organizers and some members of the artist collective took to the square to defend the artwork on Aug. 28. “We will not allow them to vandalize and commit a hate crime towards our art and our voices,” she said at the time.
-with files from Nina Grossman
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