Aylmer, Ont. police investigate defaced diversity mural in downtown core

A mural, created by the students of East Elgin Secondary School with the help of artist Meaghan Claire Kehoe, dedicated to celebrating diversity was vandalized on Saturday, May 14 with blacked out eyes and the biblical word Sodom painted across the front. Amy Simon / Global News London

Aylmer, Ont., police have launched an investigation after a mural celebrating diversity was defaced on Saturday morning.

The eyes of some of the individuals on the downtown mural were blacked out with spray paint and the word Sodom was scribed across the bottom of the mural – the name of one of the Biblical cities destroyed by God for its wickedness and once used to condemn same-sex relationships in the past.

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Police said they received a report of the vandalism around 11 a.m. on May 14.

The mural features the faces of six young people of colour, a project completed in 2021 by the students at East Elgin Secondary School.

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“We have no information that the culprit’s motive was racial or homophobic in nature,” said Aylmer Police Chief Zvonko Horvat. “Regardless, it’s disturbing that somebody would actually do that when a lot of effort was put into the mural by East Elgin Secondary School.”

The mural is located on the south side of the Groovy Moon store, beside the Old Town Hall Library, at 20 John St. S.

In 2020, the Aylmer-Malahide Museum and Archives commissioned the painting of the mural in Aylmer’s downtown core.

Led by artist Meaghan Claire Kehoe, students at East Elgin worked together to create the mural last summer.

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“The students had one overwhelming message they wanted to convey: one of diversity and inclusivity to represent everyone in their community,” read the Aylmer-Malahide Museum and Archives Facebook post regarding the completed project. “We’re blown away by Meaghan’s talent and we’re so happy to have a mural that makes everyone feel welcome and accepted in our community!”

Kehoe could not be reached for comment about the vandalism.

Jill Bond, the owner of the Groovy Moon store, says that the alley in and around the mural has attracted a large number of people suffering from addiction and homelessness, an issue that she says needs to be addressed promptly.

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“I constantly notice people coming in and out of the alley and have had to even move them out of the way of my storefront,” explained Bond. “Whoever did this is in pain, and this is a wake-up call for Aylmer to address the pain that is here.”

The investigation into the defaced mural is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Aylmer Police Service at 519-773-3146, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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