Winston Churchill statue in downtown Edmonton vandalized with red paint
The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in downtown Edmonton has been vandalized with red paint.
The paint covering the statue in Churchill Square was discovered Thursday morning. It’s not known when the statue was defaced.
Churchill was Britain’s prime minister from 1940-45 and again from 1951-55.
Churchill’s views on race were controversial and complex, and some of his statements would certainly be deemed racist in 2021 — but he remains a widely respected national hero who led the country to victory during the Second World War.
The Churchill statue in Halifax has come under scrutiny, and the world famous statue in England’s Parliament Square has been defaced numerous times.
In 2020, protesters sprayed “was a racist” on the plinth of the Sir Winston Churchill statue in London.
Mark Milke, the president of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary, said Thursday while he hadn’t seen the vandalism firsthand, he was disappointed to hear about it.
“That’s really tragic and unfortunate,” Milke said.
The society aims to preserve and promote Churchill’s legacy, and is in the process of erecting their own statue in Calgary in 2022.
“He was not perfect. He did not have views in perfect accordance with ours today — but that’s unrealistic to expect of any historical figure,” Milke said.
“Winston Churchill was far ahead of his age. He argued for the minimum wage, he argued for pensions for widows, he argued for fewer hours and more protections for factory workers. For someone to attack the statue of Winston Churchill just displays a regrettable lack of understanding of this man’s contributions to the 20th century.
“The proper way to judge a historical figure like Winston Churchill is not that they have views perfectly in accord with ours. That’s unrealistic and no one today will be perfectly blessed by citizens of Canada 100 years from now.
“The way to think about historical figures like Winston Churchill is: did they contribute to freedom and flourishing in their age? And the answer in Winston Churchill is certainly yes.”
In a statement, the president of the Churchill Society of Edmonton said she is also very disappointed by the vandalism.
“At a time when our city is preparing to open up for summer activities after an enforced COVID hiatus, defacing this public monument affects the peaceful summer enjoyment of all Edmontonians,” Elisabeth Checkel said.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Mayor Don Iveson said he was made aware of the vandalism.
“I don’t know the intent behind the vandalism, but I know historical monuments and sculptures, here and elsewhere, are at the heart of an emotional debate regarding what legacies and stories we venerate as a society,” Iveson said.
“The city welcomes healthy debate and discussion on issues of inclusiveness, and how we go about addressing historical wrongdoings and inequities like systemic racism. However, I believe there are more productive ways to move society along towards a more inclusive and uplifting future, than vandalizing city property.
“The most productive debate and balanced community discussions are where facts can be shared and public input can be heard.”
The mayor said the city’s naming committee is currently reviewing the city’s naming policy to incorporate a renaming policy in consultation with the community. A report on the subject is scheduled to be heard by city council on Aug. 24.
Shortly before 11:30 a.m., the Edmonton Police Service said it had received a call about graffiti in the area about half an hour earlier.
A spokesperson with the EPS said the Edmonton Arts Council will be tasked with cleaning the statue.
The Sir Winston Churchill statue at the corner of 102 A Avenue and 100 Street in downtown Edmonton has been vandalized with what appears to be red paint.
With a file from Redmond Shannon, Global News.
WATCH ABOVE: The statue of Sir Winston Churchill in downtown Edmonton was found vandalized with red paint on Thursday. Kim Smith reports live during the noon news with more.
Author：Caley Ramsay Global News
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