The City of Victoria asked the organizer behind a mural in Bastion Square to removed the acronym A.C.A.B. from one of the letters. The mural reads, “More Justice, More Peace,” in a call for progress on racism and violence. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

City of Victoria asks for removal of acronym ‘A.C.A.B.’ from BIPOC mural

Mural organizer says city’s request is apathetic to lived experiences of people of colour

Artists and allies occupied Victoria’s Bastion Square on Thursday to protect a mural painted earlier this month.

On Aug. 14, a group of 17 artists painted More Justice, More Peace on the ground in the square, with each artist assigned a letter sponsored by a local business. The City of Victoria also provided a grant to cover costs for the mural, a project that was created amid larger cries for racial justice across North America.

But Charity Williams, who orchestrated the painting event, said she received an email Aug. 27 requesting that a portion of the mural be removed by noon that day – a portion with the acronym A.C.A.B., which stands for ‘All Cops are Bastards.’

Organizers and some members of the artist collective took to the square the same day to defend the artwork.

“They wanted me to paint over the acronym,” Williams said. “Now we are here calling on our community to come together and take up the space and show the City of Victoria, the chief of police and city management that we are not staying silent, we will not be oppressed.

“We will not allow them to vandalize and commit a hate crime towards our art and our voices.”

READ ALSO: BIPOC artists come together to paint mural highlighting racial injustice in Bastion Square City of Victoria spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer confirmed that the city’s arts and culture staff had asked for the acronym to be removed from the mural. The letters ‘A.C.A.B.’ were not included in the original concept for the piece, he said.

“We were made aware of this late last night – someone had noticed it and advised the police and a few other groups,” Eisenhauer added. “The acronym is not in keeping with the spirit of the city’s guidelines for public spaces.”

But the city has no intentions of removing the acronym without further discussion, he said.

“We look forward to having discussions with the artists’ group and the African Heritage Association of Vancouver Island,” he said. “No immediate action will be taken.”

While there are a range of interpretations for the term, the acronym is commonly known to imply that police forces are corrupted by power and have historically and continually enforced laws that further marginalize people of colour and other groups.

VicPD Chief Del Manak issued a statement Thursday evening, saying he was made aware of the mural Wednesday evening and expressed his concerns to the city.

“The inclusion of ACAB is deeply disrespectful to the women and men of the Victoria Police Department,” he said, adding that while he stands behind the call for more justice, more peace, “justice is not justice if it does not include all members of society.”

“In these divisive times, coming together in the spirit of inclusion is the only way to better our shared community.”

Williams said the situation is a symptom of an issue that goes beyond art. She chose the statement ‘More Justice, More Peace’ as a call for progress, but said it’s also an easily digested message of positivity.

“The fact now that we have an actual message that means something, that holds a lot of experience and pain and vulnerability and you want to censor that message … it just shows that you don’t actually care,” Williams said. “You’re using our bodies to make a statement … and this, now, you asking us to paint over our words, is making a statement – you have shown us exactly where you stand.”

READ ALSO: Racism is here too, say Victoria’s black community leaders


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of VictoriaracismVicPDVictoria Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Humane Society takes revenue hit after donation bins vandalized

Organization removes clothing donation bins after contents removed, scattered

Sooke, Sidney businesses win top awards during the BC Food and Beverage Awards

Sheringham Distillery won Gold Award for Product of Year while Cascadia Seaweed won Innovation Award

Victoria police seek suspects in series of bear spray attacks

Police responded to several calls Saturday evening

Thief steals ice cream bars from Oak Bay Dairy Queen

Oak Bay resident out nearly $10,000 as CRA scam strikes again

Lamborghini driver slapped with nearly $1,000 in fines while speeding in Central Saanich

Vehicle impounded by Central Saanich police, 11 points issued

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out of stand on Norcross Road

Most Read