'So horrible': Stratford's new Pride crosswalk vandalized just hours after its installation
The new LGBTQ2S+ rainbow crosswalk in downtown Stratford has been vandalized a mere 24 hours after it was completed.
Now, the vandalism has prompted an investigation into what police are calling “hate motivated graffiti.”
Through tears, Kelly Ballantyne, who laid the groundwork for the city’s first Pride crosswalk, said she was heartbroken to see it damaged.
“It means a lot, the flag represents me,” said Ballantyne.
The crosswalk, located at Wellington and Downie streets in downtown Stratford was installed Wednesday and is steps away from Ballantyne’s restaurant, Sirkel Foods with her wife.
“For somebody to ruin it, basically on the very first day is so horrible,” said Ballantyne.
Stratford Police say they were notified of the damage at around 1:30 a.m. on Friday by city workers. It’s believed the incident happened around that time as the paint was still wet when officers arrived. Police say it was household paint and dark spray paint used in the incident.
Public works used a pressure washer to remove most of the paint but stains were left behind.
“On our hands and knees [we] scrubbed this crosswalk clean and we were able to remove the vast majority of it,” said Jessica Elliott, the owner of Powerhouse Painting.
Elliott volunteered to install the crosswalk and is now working to restore it.
“This is my artwork, this is a labour of love,” said Elliott.
Eric Charbonneau, a board member of Stratford-Perth Pride, said he’s saddened by this incident but the messages of support have been uplifting.
“It’s Pride history month in October, it’s pride everyday for us and I’m just thankful for all the messages of love that we’ve received,” said Charbonneau.
Police said they conducted a thorough search of the area to locate evidence but were unable to find any suspects.
They are asking any businesses and homes that may have video surveillance of the crosswalk to check their cameras and report any suspicious activity.
Ballantyne said no matter what comes out of the investigation, this rainbow crosswalk is here to stay.
“I’ll come scrub it tomorrow and I’ll scrub it for the next thirty years if I have to, you’ll never win,” said Ballantyne.