Racist vandalism in Okanagan town is the tip of the iceberg: Summerland Mayor - InfoNews

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Racist vandalism in Okanagan town is the tip of the iceberg: Summerland Mayor

Summerland Mayor Toni Boot is pictured in this screenshot from a YouTube video. Mayor Boot says she has experienced racism many times herself growing up in Summerland.
Image Credit: YOUTUBE
July 15, 2020 - 3:01 PM

The Mayor of Summerland says two racially-motivated incidents of vandalism that took place in the community earlier this week are part of a larger societal issue.

“I firmly believe this is larger than the two incidents that took place. This is overt and people are shocked and disgusted by it, but it’s an in-your-face example of the racism we live with in society all the time,” Summerland Mayor Toni Boot said today, July 15.

RCMP are investigating incidents of hate-motivated vandalism that took place on July 13, one in which a home was spray painted with hate messages, and the same evening the town’s memorial band shell stage was vandalized with hate messages.

Harish Anand said he responded to his aunt and uncle's house shortly after it was vandalized on Monday night.

"It was definitely a punch in the gut to see this happen. This is not OK," he says.

Harish Anand took this photo of the racist graffiti on his aunt and uncle's home in Summerland earlier this week.
Harish Anand took this photo of the racist graffiti on his aunt and uncle's home in Summerland earlier this week.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Harish Anand

Mayor Boot, who is Black, says she has experienced racism many times herself growing up in Summerland and she still does.

She is hoping these "overt" incidents will provide an opportunity to have a community conversation on the issue of racism.

“The RCMP is investigating and I don’t want to speculate on why this took place. I do know the RCMP are taking this seriously and recognize it for the hate crime it is,” she says.

Boot says even though the incidents appear to be separate, they are part of underlying systemic racism “that’s always there.”

She says on June 29, another racist issue occurred after someone displayed a Confederate flag in their window, but it was taken down after initial complaints were made, so no hate crime complaints were filed.

“That doesn’t mean it isn’t another incident that shouldn’t be talked about,” she says.

Boot would like to see the incidents examined at the community level, saying it seems as though there is a desire on the part of the community to do that.

“This particular incident impacted a single Indo-Canadian family in Summerland, but the reality is it has impacted all Indo-Canadians, all people of colour and the people of Summerland and beyond, frankly," Boot says. "This is an opportunity to raise this and stop pretending we don’t have racism in Canada. That myth needs to be obliterated. We need to start talking and understanding how we are all part of that."


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