POLITICS

'Beautiful' Black Trans Lives Matter Mural Vandalized In Ottawa

09/24/2015 04:44 EDT | Updated 09/24/2015 05:59 EDT
Kalkidan Assefa/Ian Capstick

An investigation is underway after a mural dedicated to raising awareness of violence against black trans women was vandalized in Ottawa.

An official complaint was filed on Thursday, Ottawa police Const. Marc Soucy confirmed.

The mural, which was on temporary display downtown at the intersection of Bank and Somerset, came to life through the efforts of several community organizations including the Queer Mafia and the Black Collective. It was installed at the end of August as part of the city’s Pride celebration.

On Thursday morning, the message “ALL LIVE MATTER, NO DOUBLE STANDARD, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED” was found scrawled across the mural.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, who had said he was open to finding a permanent home for the colourful artwork, condemned the damage.

"This kind of hateful act and threatening language are not in any way indicative of the opinions of Ottawa’s residents, and they have no place in our city," Watson told The Huffington Post Canada in an email.

"I had seen this beautiful piece of art several times and it is saddening that the actions of a small number of people can ruin something that was being enjoyed by so many in our city."

This is what the mural looked like on Aug. 25:

And this is how it looks now:

The local artist who spent two days painting the mural said he learned about the vandalism when he woke up to a flood of messages on social media.

Kalkidan Assefa said he wasn’t surprised because his work has been targeted by vandals before — including the ruined Black Trans Lives Matter mural.

When asked in an interview if he intends to re-paint the piece, he said "for sure" something new will replace the graffiti that now covers the mural.

The graffiti spawned a reactionary hashtag, #notmyottawa, used by people on Twitter to decry the vandalism.

Assefa said in some ways, the painting's defacing has a beneficial side: "I think it kind of validates the work that we do. Although it was unfortunate to see my personal work defaced, and the work of people who I consider my colleagues, being defaced I think it moves the dialogue forward."

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