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Halifax councillor says he received a threat for voting to remove Cornwallis statue

District nine Coun. Shawn Cleary pictured in Halifax City Hall on Feb. 1, 2018.
District nine Coun. Shawn Cleary pictured in Halifax City Hall on Feb. 1, 2018. Global News

A Halifax councillor says someone threatened him for voting to temporarily remove the controversial statue of Halifax’s founder this week.

“I guess I’m officially a public figure now. I reported to the police my very first threat to my safety,” said Coun. Shawn Cleary, who represents District 9.

READ MORE: Controversial Cornwallis statue removed from Halifax park

The comments were made via Facebook on Wednesday night from a man who lives in Ontario, he said.

“When he comes back [to Nova Scotia] he’s going to be paying me a visit,” Cleary said, referencing the content of the message.

In a private message seen by Global News, the man wrote in part “You f—ing watch you spineless piece of s—!!! Answer me you t— or when I come home to visit I’ll visit you.”

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The person also left public comments on Cleary’s Facebook wall.

One of the messages Coun. Shawn Cleary received from one person in regards to the Cornwallis statue decision.
One of the messages Coun. Shawn Cleary received from one person in regards to the Cornwallis statue decision. Provided/ Shawn Cleary

The statue of Edward Cornwallis, which critics have said represents white supremacy, was removed on Wednesday after councillors voted to do so the day before.

READ MORE: Edward Cornwallis considered: The man behind Halifax’s divisive debate

The statue is being kept in storage until councillors direct staff on what to do with it — a process that’s expected to take months. The municipality isn’t revealing where the statue is being stored in order to protect it, according to a spokesperson.

Cleary said he has received more than 100 emails, social media posts and phone calls about the statue. He said many of those messages praised Tuesday’s decision, while others have been and negative and “downright racist.”

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He said he understands the emotion behind the issue, but said people need “to engage in a civil dialogue.”

Cleary said the threatening message has encouraged him even more to help educate people about the issue.