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

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Theft of $120 in Sharpie is among the files Oak Bay Police Department responded to last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man steals $120 worth of Sharpies from Oak Bay Village

Police respond to daytime break-in and theft, among other calls last week

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read