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Police in Nanaimo treating Pride crosswalk vandalism as hate crime

Surveillance stills show person of interest carrying can of paint at the time of the incident
Police in Nanaimo hope the public can help identify a man who is a person of interest in their investigation into the vandalism of two downtown rainbow crosswalks, which is being investigated as a hate crime. (Photo submitted)

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating vandalism of Pride crosswalks in Nanaimo as a hate crime and are turning to the public for help to find a person of interest in the case.

The crosswalks at the intersection of Commercial and Bastion streets were vandalized with black paint sometime overnight Saturday, July 3.

A security camera captured still images of a man, whom police hope to identify, carrying a can of paint and a paint brush between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. that morning.

The person in the images is described as Caucasian, in his mid 30s with short hair, wearing a black face mask, black shoes, light-coloured shorts and a black T-shirt.

“Considering that the crosswalk was painted to recognize the LGBTQ2+ community in Nanaimo, this incident is being treated as hate-motivated mischief,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “If a suspect is positively identified and charges laid, this factor may be considered by the courts as an aggravating factor.”

The City of Nanaimo recommended the crosswalk be painted in rainbow colours in 2016 to show support for the LGBTQ community. City officials have been advised of the damage and were planning to re-paint as soon as Tuesday, July 6.

“This kind of desecration of something that is meant to make people welcome in our community is simply not acceptable. This is 2021,” said Mayor Leonard Krog at Monday’s city council meeting. “I would like to think that this is an isolated incident by an individual who clearly needs some guidance and assistance.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line at 250-754-2345, and quote file No. 2021-24453.

READ ALSO: Pride crosswalks vandalized in downtown Nanaimo
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