WATCH: Swastika painted on anchor in park in Pointe-des-Cascades raises hackles
The municipality of Pointe-des-Cascades, west of Montreal, is taking heat on social media for an anchor prominently displayed in a local park.
The anchor, in question, is painted white, with a swastika etched into the metal, and painted black.
Corey Fleischer, the well-known graffiti remover and founder of the Erasing Hate movement, says one of his followers contacted him about the anchor in St. Pierre Park — in a part of the park called Place des Ancres, where several old ship anchors are on display.
The swastika was painted black on the white anchor — as if to make it appear more prominent.
"The city enhanced and embellished the swastika so that anybody that would pass by would be sure of exactly what it was," Fleischer told CJAD 800.
He took his power washer to try and buff it out, but since the swastika was embedded, he tried to paint over them. The town's mayor then saw what he was up to, and called police.
"[The mayor] told me to leave the park, and if I wasn't to leave the park, he was going to call police and have me charged with destruction of property," he said. "And I tried to explain to the mayor that in 2017, no matter what the origin of the swastika, it should definitely not be in a public place."
Fleischer posted a video to Facebook on Monday of his encounter with police in the park. He was not charged with a crime, but he's urging people to contact the town of Pointe-des-Cascades to make their feelings known about the swastika — which was once a symbol of peace before it was co-opted by the Nazis nearly a century ago.
"We're not having this conversation in the late 1800s. If that was the case, a swastika in a park might be acceptable." he says. "Anything after World War II, it's just so unacceptable that it's really hard to put into words."
Meanwhile, the town of Pointe-des-Cascades has been inundated with calls since Fleischer's video went public.
It issued a statement late Monday about the controversy, saying it did so to "restore the facts". It points out the anchor was not German, but in fact, English, and that it pre-dates the Nazi era.
"The village of Pointe-des-Cascades does not endorse Nazism," mayor Gilles Santerre says in the statement. "Our village has a beautiful community and family spirit and creates events that bring people together. Parc des Ancres is an open-air museum so that people can discover the history of our village. To avoid confusion, the city plans to install new plates that will better explain the origins of these anchors."