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EDITORIAL: Repeated displays of hate tarnish Summerland’s reputation

The frequency of these incidents is disturbing
An anti-Black slur was added underneath the words Welcome Back at the Summerland Secondary School sign. The slur has been blurred in this photo. The incident occurred overnight Sept. 9 to 10 and the vandalism was removed on the morning of Sept. 10. (Photo by Toni Boot)

When an expression of hate shows up once in a community, it is easy to dismiss it as an anomaly. When such expressions happen frequently, a serious problem must be addressed.

In Summerland, shows of hate — racial slurs and the defacing of Pride symbols — are becoming all too common.

On the night of Sept. 9 to 10, a slur was shown on a sign at a Summerland school, along one of the main roads into the community. This was the fourth hate-related incident in the community in a three-month period. Others were spray-painting a racial slur on two walls at the high school, removing a Pride flag from a church and defacing a rainbow crosswalk with a racial slur.

There have also been earlier incidents, including the defacing of a Truth and Reconciliation mural less than eight months after the mural had been completed.

The frequency of these incidents is disturbing. A message of intolerance is being repeated. Left unchecked, the acts of vandalism, graffiti and defaced signs could escalate to threats or acts of violence. And if these messages continue, it is possible other identifiable groups may also be targeted in the future.

At present, it is not known whether these four incidents are the work of an individual or a group, or whether each is the work of a different person or group of people. It is not known whether those responsible are youths or adults. And it is not known whether the people behind these displays are part of the community of Summerland, or if they are visitors or passers-by.

Answers are needed. Those responsible for these displays of hate need to be held accountable for their actions.

At the same time, affixing blame is not enough. An important question to answer is why these expressions of hate are happening in Summerland.

On multiple occasions in recent months, people have made strong statements of intolerance in this community. Do those responsible think Summerland is a place where their messages will be received and accepted?

Messages of intolerance have been displayed in Summerland, on multiple occasions. It is time to stand as a community to show that such messages are unacceptable here.

— Black Press

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