The words “death to imperialism” were spray-painted on one side of the LAV III.
#cobourgpoliceservice media release – LAV III monument at the Cobourg Afghanistan Memorial in #cobourg vandalized https://t.co/VX8Bgh6ZIk
Anyone in the area between Jan 2 & Jan 3, who saw anything suspicious or may have dash camera footage, please call police at 905-372-6821 pic.twitter.com/1WfmjJYRsN
— Cobourg Police (@CobourgPolice) January 3, 2021
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.
Suspect to identify in hate-motivated graffiti at the War Memorial https://t.co/r06vvFZj3s #ottnews
Suspect à identifier dans une affaire de graffiti motivé par la haine au Monument commémoratif de guerre https://t.co/yRMx1i1t0n #ottnouvelles pic.twitter.com/wYCbkEnnp0
— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) October 23, 2020
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.
Communism always fails. Communism kills but also gives birth to plentiful number of the useful idiots in Canada and beyond. The Memorial isn't completed yet but that didn't stop some moron from insulting the memory of our heroes on Canada Day. pic.twitter.com/1DSC10Mlk5
— tributetoliberty (@tributetolibert) July 6, 2020
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