‘An insult’: Chinatown tagger handed probation after 7 of 8 charges stayed

Click to play video: 'Most charges against alleged Chinatown tagger stayed'
Most charges against alleged Chinatown tagger stayed
Frustration in Vancouver's Chinatown, as most of the charges against a suspected serial graffiti tagger have been stayed. Kristen Robinson reports – Mar 12, 2024

A man accused of committing multiple acts of graffiti vandalism in Vancouver’s Chinatown last year has been sentenced to 12 months probation after pleading guilty to one of eight mischief charges he was facing.

The BC Prosecution Service confirmed that it had stayed the remaining seven mischief charges against Larry Carlston, as well as a single breach of release order charge for allegedly possessing markers on Jan. 9, during a sentencing hearing on March 1.

“It seems like a consolation prize given the fact you’ve got one charge that went through out of eight,” said Vancouver Chinatown BIA president Jordan Eng. “It really doesn’t seem like a just punishment considering the amount of work that the Vancouver Police Department has gone through to get it to court because it’s not that easy.”

Click to play video: 'Accused serial Chinatown vandal appears in court'
Accused serial Chinatown vandal appears in court

Carlston, 61, was arrested on Feb. 1, 2023 and later charged with eight counts of mischief for allegedly wilfully writing graffiti on a window of the Elizabeth Fry Society on Feb. 1, on a city of Vancouver information post the same day, on a Chinatown BIA bulletin board on Jan. 26, on a Chinatown BIA bulletin board on Jan. 4, on doors at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden on Jan. 4 and on Jan. 20, on an exterior wall of the same gardens on Jan. 26, and on the Chinatown Plaza War Memorial on Jan. 26.

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Carlston, who has said he’s a member of the Indigenous Resistance, pleaded guilty to the single count of defacing the war memorial.

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The BC Prosecution Service said Crown counsel determined that “the available evidence did not support the conclusion that the offending was motivated by hate.”

In an interview with Global News in Oct. 2023, Carlston said he understood the meaning of the tags he was charged over, but claimed he had nothing against Chinatown.

“These are messages that people are sending out to the government,” said Carlston on Oct. 25. “Your reconciliation plan, it’s probably completely dead.”

Elimin8Hate, an organization which strives for racial equity and an inclusive society for all Asian Canadians, told Global News the case speaks to government and those in power needing to do more to support vulnerable communities and groups which have been subject to systemic racism for many generations.

Click to play video: 'Chinatown merchant writes message to graffiti taggers'
Chinatown merchant writes message to graffiti taggers

“This lack of support has caused people to act out and react and unfortunately in this instance, the Chinatown community was the victim,” said executive director Audrey Wong.

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Wong said the Chinese community fully supports the Indigenous community in its fight for reparation and reconciliation, and it was unfortunate the graffiti vandalism happened in the historic neighbourhood.

“There are very vulnerable groups in Chinatown at risk so we hope that people consider that in the course of their activism and their actions,” she added.

“When you do caricatures of a certain race and group and make slurs and comments, definitely that’s hate-related,” said Eng. “You’re not doing it for fun … and when you do it right in people’s community that’s really an insult.”

Click to play video: 'Vancouver man confronts suspected Chinatown mural tagger'
Vancouver man confronts suspected Chinatown mural tagger

Carlston must abide by eight probation conditions including completing 16 hours of community service in the first four months and writing a letter of apology to the Vancouver Chinatown BIA.

“I look forward to seeing it, I think you know, it was quite hurtful to the community and hopefully there’s some remorse in the response,” Eng told Global News Tuesday.

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Carlston must also not possess any paints, dyes, acids, paintbrushes, spray paint cans or permanent marking pens outside of his home without written permission from his probation officer.

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