Montreal police are investigating after a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald in Montreal’s Place du Canada, was the target of vandals overnight.
A video posted to Vimeo by user A Fit Na, shows the statue of Canada’s first prime minister being covered in red spray paint.
Benoit Boiselle, spokesperson for Montreal police, said they were aware that a video had been posted online, and investigators will be looking into the matter.
The act of vandalism took place ahead of a large anti-hate, anti-racist demonstration taking place in Montreal Sunday afternoon.
In a statement posted online, an organization — referring to itself as a a group of anonymous local anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-capitalist activists — has claimed responsibility for the vandalism.
The group targeted the statue arguing that Macdonald stands as a symbol of “colonialism, racism and white supremacy.”
“John A. Macdonald was a white supremacist. He directly contributed to the genocide of Indigenous peoples with the creation of the brutal residential schools system, as well as other measures meant to destroy native cultures and traditions. He was racist and hostile towards non-white minority groups in Canada, openly promoting the preservation of a so-called ‘Aryan’ Canada. He passed laws to exclude people of Chinese origin. He was responsible for the hanging of Métis martyr Louis Riel,” the statement reads.
The group argued Macdonald’s statue should not be taking up public space in Montreal, saying it would be better suited for a museum.
The activists go on to say their actions were motivated by similar movements in the United States, where symbols of white supremacy in public spaces, have been targeted for removal.
The group also mentions movements closer to home who have rallied to have Macdonald’s name removed from schools.
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While the group responsible for defacing the statue threw its support behind the more than 160 groups taking part in Sunday’s march against hate and racism, it was quick to shift responsibility away from the participants.
“We also express our heartfelt support and solidarity with the protesters taking today’s streets in Montreal in opposition to hate and racism … The individuals responsible for this action are not affiliated with today’s anti-racist demonstration,” the statement reads.
The march kicked off at 2 p.m. at the intersection Berri Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard East.