Rainbow crosswalk vandalism disappointing for pride association and college

By Matt Pouncy
October 1, 2018 - 5:32pm Updated: October 1, 2018 - 7:25pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB — There was a celebration last week at Medicine Hat College unveiling the city's first pride crosswalk.

It took less than a week for the walkway to get vandalized.

Video footage from Medicine Hat Police Service shows two individuals on Saturday morning dressed in black approach the crosswalk.

One person holding a bucket containing white paint empties the contents before the pair take off.

Becki Korhonen, president of the Medicine Hat Pride Association, says seeing the vandalism is disappointing because the crosswalk is a symbol of acceptance.

“For people to go and vandalize that, it’s just saying no we don’t accept you, and we don’t want you in our city,” said Korhonen.

As for the college, it's trying to understand why someone would make the decision to spread hate, but that bad decision is just reaffirming why they need the crosswalk on campus.

“We wanna make sure that students know that they’re welcome, and loved and accepted no matter what. It just firmed up for us the reason why we felt that it was so important to paint it in the first place,” said Student Association health and wellness coordinator, Jaycene Mock.

Students in the pride community have already come to ask her why people would want to do this.

“It spurs a lot of different emotions. For them to know that someone would go out of their way to come and do a hateful act like that on campus. So we really feel proud that students know that they can come in here to chat about those things with us,” said Mock.

Medicine hat isn't the only place in Alberta that's has been targeted.

Grande Prairie's crosswalk was damaged by a vehicle back in June and Lethbridge's crosswalk was tampered with twice last year. Taber had to replace two pride flags in under a week.

These acts of disrespect still happen all over Canada, but Korhonen feels Alberta deals with more of these hate crimes. 

“It’s just the way it is here. I’ve lived in three different provinces and Alberta seems to be the most close minded about this sort of thing,” said Korhonen.

Korhonen says vandalism isn't the right way for people to make their voice heard.  

“You don’t see somebody vandalizing other art work in the city that represents immigrants, and people coming over on the railways and things like that. So why do it to ours,” said Korhonen.

There is only a slight mark that shows where the damage was done, and the crosswalk will continue to stand as a bright spot on the college's campus.

The investigation is still ongoing and police are asking anyone with information to call the station or crime stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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