Vancouver’s Komagata Maru memorial has been damaged for the second time in just over a year, and police say it appears to have been intentional once again.
Back in August 2021, the memorial was defaced with white paint and hand prints. This time, the glass photograph at the front of the site was smashed.
The Vancouver Police Department said it learned of the fresh vandalism on Tuesday (Oct. 4), and it’s since launched an investigation to determine who did it and why.
“We don’t just want to find the person who did this, but also understand why this cherished memorial was targeted,” Const. Jason Doucette said in a news release.
The memorial was installed in 2013 to pay tribute to the 376 passengers aboard the Komagata Maru steamship, which travelled from then-British India to Vancouver on May 23, 1914. The passengers were not allowed to disembark from the ship due to racist policies of the day when they arrived and, after two months on board with little food, water or medical attention, they were forced to turn back. There, 19 were shot and killed and many others were jailed as political agitators.
In response to the latest vandalism, Vancouver’s parks board chair called the act “despicable” and “cowardly.”
“…it shows enormous disrespect to those who travelled and suffered on the ship and to their families. It is shocking and heartbreaking that a community which has been historically marginalized has once again been subjected to a hateful act,” Stuart Mackinnon said in a statement.
Police are investigating whether the perpetrator could also be connected to a different act of vandalism in the area from three days prior, when the Olympic Cauldron was smashed.
The person believed to be behind the first defacement of the Komagata Maru memorial, Yuniar Kurniawan, was charged with mischief back in January.
Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 604-717-0613, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.