Salmon Arm’s rainbow crosswalk appears to be bringing out the worst in our community.
What was meant to be a symbol of inclusion, a public display of tolerance and caring for individuals who, in many cases, have struggled with issues of identity and discrimination, has become a lightning rod for opposing views. This has been demonstrated through acts of vandalism and comments on social media ranging from dismissive to outright disgusting.
Most abhorrent was the graffiti scrawled over the three week-old rainbow crosswalk Sunday night, words that have police calling the act a hate crime. It’s rather telling that the words used in this hate crime borrow from an insular slogan made popular again by the current U.S. president.
Unfortunately, these public displays of intolerance were predictable.
In most cases where communities across B.C. have proceeded to paint a rainbow crosswalk, there has been controversy and division. And, subsequent to its painting, there has been vandalism.
Courtenay’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized one day after it was installed with burnout marks. The day after New Westminster’s rainbow crosswalk was unveiled, a 91-year-old man poured white paint on it. Fort Langley’s was quickly blemished with burnouts. In Nanaimo, a biblical verse was reportedly painted over one of their rainbow crosswalks. Smithers – burnouts again. And so on.
Precedent, however, is no excuse for continuity.
Flying a flag honouring First Nations territory or painting a rainbow crosswalk are more than political gestures. They symbolize an openness to learning and understanding more about the world and the people who share it – things that should benefit us all.
Editorial written by staff at the Salmon Arm Observer