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Vancouver woman finds racist graffiti on mother’s memorial bench

Gladys Lam sits on a bench in Vancouver's Queen Elizabeth Park that pays tribute to her father and later mother. She recently visited the bench only to find that someone had written a racist message on it. Submitted by Gladys Lam

A Vancouver woman is heartbroken and angry after she discovered racist graffiti defacing the park bench dedicated to her father and late mother.

“Here is a very sad case of racism raising its ugly head,” Gladys Lam told Global News. “This is a very hurtful and personal story of ugliness that shouldn’t be part of our Canadian life.”

The bench in Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park honouring Victor and Jane Zhao is defaced with racist graffiti, seen here partially blurred. Submitted by Gladys Lam

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The bench, at Queen Elizabeth Park, pays tribute to her parents, Victor and Jane Zhao, and their love of the green space.

“My mother walked this path and picked up trash in the park for years in her 80s,” said Lam. “My father visits the bench daily. It breaks my heart that he has to see this.”

Victor Zhao bends down to kiss the bench that honours his late wife, Jane, in Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park, after racist graffiti was written on it. Submitted by Gladys Lam

After Jane was diagnosed with cancer, Lam said, her grandchildren sponsored the bench and the family unveiled it at Christmas.

She died just a few months later, on Feb. 21.

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Local police have reported a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in recent weeks.

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“We are seeing a trend most likely due to the pandemic,” Sgt. Aaron Roed told a news conference on Tuesday.

He said such incidents are under-reported, and encouraged both victims and witnesses to come forward.

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Lam’s father has picked up where his wife left off, collecting and disposing of litter along the walking path.

Lam had a message to whoever wrote the graffiti: “This is very hurtful. I know our country is going through some tough times, but we are not your enemy. The virus is.”

She later posted this video message on Facebook:

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