Komagata Maru Memorial Defaced As VPD Investigates


VANCOUVER – Vancouver Police are collecting evidence after someone defaced the city’s Komagata Maru memorial Sunday. Police are treating the troubling incident as a possible hate crime.

“Front-line officers and other specially-trained investigators worked throughout the evening yesterday, and will continue to gather evidence in this disturbing crime,” says Sergeant Steve Addison, VPD. “This investigation is a priority, and we are committed to finding out who is responsible and why they did this.”

Raj Toor of the Descendants of the Komagata Maru society said this is a terrible incident.

“Myself and the descendents of the Komagata Maru families are very saddened and pained to see this,” he told DESIBUZZCanada.

The City of Vancouver said Sunday in a statement it was “saddened” to learn the memorial had been defaced, noting workers will be sent to remove the paint.

“While it is not clear what the motivation was, it shows disrespect to those who travelled and suffered on the ship and to their families,” the statement said about the vandalism.

People on social media began posting images, video and expressions of dismay at the vandalism Sunday afternoon.

Later on Sunday a man at the memorial, who did not want to be identified, arrived with brushes and cleaning products and began scrubbing away the paint.

“This is not my Vancouver,” he said.

VPD immediately launched an investigation Sunday, after multiple online and media reports began showing white paint splattered on the memorial, located on the seawall in Coal Harbour. The graffiti, which included multiple white hand-prints, covered the names of people who had been aboard the Komagata Maru when it arrived in Vancouver in 1914, carrying nearly 400 people from India who were denied entry to Canada despite being citizens of the British Empire.

“This monument is an important memorial to the people who traveled here seeking a better life and were wrongfully turned away because of racist policies,” adds Sergeant Addison. “It is disheartening that someone could show such disrespect to this important memorial, and we’d like anyone with information to come forward.”

Nearly 400 people were aboard the Komagata Maru in 1914 when it was turned away from Canada due to racist laws at the time. Raj Singh Toor, whose grandfather was one of them, speaks for the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, reported CBC.

The Komagata Maru memorial was installed in 2013 along the waterfront in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour neighbourhood.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call 604-717-0613.