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Crime

Calgary police charge man after Pride crosswalk vandalism

WATCH: Calgary police have released footage showing the apparent vandalism of the rainbow Pride crosswalk on Stephen Avenue on Aug. 14, 2019.

Calgary police have charged a man accused of vandalizing the city’s Pride crosswalk at Centre Street and Stephen Avenue.

According to police, the rainbow flag crosswalk was defaced at around 8:20 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18 with the message “Shoot A F*****.”

READ MORE: Calgary’s Pride crosswalk vandalized for a 2nd time in under a week

On Tuesday, police said a suspect had been interviewed, and investigators determined there was enough evidence to support a “hate-bias motivation” for the vandalism.

Kevin James Gavel, 54, is charged with one count of mischief.

He is due to appear in court on Oct. 1.

Gavel is not allowed to be within 500 metres of the Pride and trans Pride crosswalks at 8 Avenue and Centre Street.

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Pride crosswalks vandalized by ‘cowards’ who should ‘come forward’ — police

Sunday’s defacing of the Pride crosswalk marked the second time in just four days that the symbols of diversity and solidarity were vandalized.

The first act of vandalism took place at around 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, when the word “lust” was spray-painted on the rainbow Pride flag crosswalk, while the word “lost” covered the accompanying trans Pride crosswalk across the street.

The Pride and trans Pride crosswalks in downtown Calgary were vandalised at around 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019.
The Pride and trans Pride crosswalks in downtown Calgary were vandalised at around 4:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019. Zoom Painting

Zoom Painting, a private company that committed to painting and maintaining the crosswalks for up to 10 years, repaired the damage.

On Monday, Calgary police released photos of the suspect thought to be responsible for the first act of vandalism and video of the person thought to have defaced the crosswalk a second time.

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Investigators don’t think the two incidents are related.

READ MORE: Vandalism of Calgary’s rainbow and trans Pride flag crosswalks being investigated by hate crimes unit

In the first incident, police said the suspect was wearing construction clothing and a white hard hat. The suspect allegedly set up orange road cones and a “road closed” sign around the crosswalk while defacing it.

Calgary police released these photos they say shows the suspect thought to be responsible for vandalizing the rainbow Pride crosswalk on Stephen Avenue on Aug. 18, 2019.
Calgary police released these photos they say shows the suspect thought to be responsible for vandalizing the rainbow Pride crosswalk on Stephen Avenue on Aug. 18, 2019. Calgary Police Service handout

Acting Sgt. Craig Collins from the hate crimes unit believes that this is not a “random act of vandalism,” saying the suspect clearly tried to conceal their identity.

“At one point, the suspect interacted with a motorist who attempted to turn onto 8 Avenue from Centre Street but was stopped by the individual,” Collins said. “Several local taxis and a jogger were also seen in the area and may have information that could assist the investigation.”

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“These acts of vandalism are committed by cowards who do not have the courage to stand behind their words,” Collins said.

“I challenge them to come forward and take responsibility for their actions.”

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“That crosswalk is extensively monitored by a whole host of cameras,” he added. “I spent nine hours canvassing for footage on Thursday and got plenty — and I still haven’t finished that [canvassing].”

“If you’re thinking of attending that crosswalk to place your mark, smile for the camera — because we’re going to catch you.”

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READ MORE: New permanent rainbow and trans Pride flag crosswalks coming to Calgary

Speaking on Global News Morning Calgary on Wednesday, Calgary Police Service Chief Mark Neufeld called the vandalism “senseless” and “disconcerting.”

“We take these things seriously,” Neufeld said, adding that police are looking forward to laying charges in the first incident.

Anyone with information on the vandalized crosswalks is asked to call police at 403-422-1234 or contact Crime Stoppers.

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