The founder of a group that removes hate symbols was shocked to learn that he was not allowed to remove a swastika from a public park in a Quebec village.
An open-air museum in Pointes-des-Cascades, Que., nearly an hour outside of Montreal, features dozens of historical anchors, including one with an engraved swastika on one side.
Corey Fleischer, known for removing hate symbols with the graffiti-removing group Erasing Hate, said he was called to the park by a concerned citizen regarding the hate symbol displayed on the anchor. When he arrived at the park he approached the anchor thinking someone had spray painted a swastika, but noticed the symbol was engraved and had been outlined in black by the city.
“I decided to remove the paint around the swastika that the city had painted on this ancient World War Two anchor,” Fleischer told CTV Montreal. “To have such a sign of hate in a public space is completely unacceptable.”
Fleischer was spotted by the local mayor, Gilles Santerre, who then called the Quebec provincial police. Fleischer agreed to leave after officers warned him that he could be arrested for damaging city property.
“This is a family space, this is a public space,” said Fleischer. “There is no room for any swastikas to be in a public domain.”
A small plaque exists below the anchor but does not give much historical context, only saying that the anchor was found at the bottom of Lake St. Louis in 1988.
While it is possible that the ship is from the Second World War, historians believe the anchor predates the war. It’s believed the anchor came from a British merchant ship when swastikas were regarded as a sign of good fortune.
Cathy Bonneville, a Pointes-des-Cascades resident, was puzzled to learn that the anchor had induced controversy as it’s a piece of history.
“Go to the Louvre and see if they’ll enjoy you throwing something on a painting because you don’t like the painting,” Bonneville said.
A written statement from the town says the park is an open-air museum meant to allow people to discover the history of the area. The town also maintains that the anchor will be staying.
According to Santerre, new plaques will be installed to provide more historical context.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Stephane Giroux