Vandals Deface Afghanistan Memorial in Cobourg, Ontario

‘A complete disregard’ to war veterans, police say
January 5, 2021 Updated: January 5, 2021

The light armored vehicle (LAV III) monument at the Cobourg Afghanistan Memorial was defaced with graffiti between the evening of Jan. 2 and morning of Jan. 3, according to Cobourg police.

The words “death to imperialism” were spray-painted on one side of the LAV III.

Cobourg Police Chief Paul VandeGraaf condemned the act of vandalism.

“Having your personal opinion is fair. It is in the Canadian Charter of Rights, but when you deface someone else’s property, that becomes a criminal issue,” VandeGraaf said in a statement. “Someone decided to deface a memorial to war veterans—a complete disregard for the thousands of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who served and the 162 Canadians who died for peace and freedom to the people of Afghanistan.”

“Defacing a memorial dishonours those who sacrificed their lives, their families and the women and men who served that continue to struggle with those invisible wounds that come with their sacrifice. It’s a disgrace, and I ask anyone that has information to come forward,” he added.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also took to Twitter to condemn the act.

“Monuments that pay respect to our fallen deserve to be honoured not vandalized by ignorance. #LestWeForget,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Cobourg Police Service Forensic Identification Service team has processed the site and taken photos of footprints found at the scene. Town of Cobourg Parks and Recreation staff have since removed the graffiti.

Last October, the National War Memorial in Ottawa was also the target of vandalism, which sparked public outrage.

A suspect rode a bike to the memorial at approximately 9:46 p.m. on Oct. 16 and used a sharp object to engrave “hate graffiti” on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, said Ottawa police. He then left the area on his bike.

Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay called the incident “a disgusting act.”

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told CBC that it was anti-Semitic in nature, though the Ottawa police news release didn’t mention whether the graffiti was targeting a specific group.

And last July, a large sign at the construction site of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism was spray-painted with “communism will win” and three hammer and sickle symbols.

Tribute to Liberty, the charity spearheading the project, says on its website that the memorial “will serve as a public reminder of the millions of victims of Communism, and will bring the suffering of these victims into the public’s consciousness.”

At the time, Tribute to Liberty treasurer Alide Forstmanis said he believes the vandalism is part of a recent trend to deface or topple monuments and statues across North America.

“What’s happening in the U.S. you can see with toppling of entities, is [also] facing all the statues here in Canada. It’s very sad that they do this,” Forstmanis said in an interview.

The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, was toppled and sprayed with graffiti in Montreal last August.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney lashed out at the activists over the vandalism on Twitter.

“It’s right to debate his legacy and life. But it is wrong to allow roving bands of thugs to vandalize our history with impunity,” he wrote.

Scott Goulet and Hongyan Lu contributed to this article