Hate or stupidity? Swastikas on Stavanger Drive latest graffiti headache for St. John’s

At least three instances of graffiti were spotted last weekend. The graffiti featured the Hindu version of a swastika. (Submitted)

A series of spraypainted swastikas — albeit ones that appear to be in line with Hindu tradition rather than the more notorious images of Nazi Germany and modern alt-right movements — have appeared in the east end of St. John’s.

But Jonathan Richler, owner of the Jewish Deli, said he believes the latest graffiti is likely more the result of stupidity than racism. 

“Straight up like that, with the four dots, that is not a swastika promoted by the Nazis,” Richler said.

A Google image search for swastikas will prominently show the ancient Hindu symbol, which has been known for thousands of years for good luck and good fortune.

In Nazi Germany, the swastika was forever altered as a symbol of Aryan supremacy. Neo-nazi groups frequently use the swastika as a symbol of power and intimidation. 

‘The stuff we see on electrical posts or boxes? It’s a waste of space.– Jonathan Richler

At least three instances of dotted swastikas were spraypained in the Stavanger Drive neighbourhood in St. John’s. 

“Either the person who did it is an idiot or they are — well, let’s just leave it at that,” said Richler, who said graffiti can be an art form — but also can be destructive. 

“Graffiti in and of itself can be a beautiful thing,” said Richler, who once decorated his music business with graffiti art.

“It can be fantastic. The stuff we see on electrical posts or boxes? It’s a waste of space …There’s nothing beautiful about graffiti if it’s done at that level of intelligence.”

Task force in the works

Deanne Stapleton, who represents Ward 1 on St. John’s city council, said City Hall has noticed an increase in graffiti, and that it started work last month on a task force that will combat the issue of defaced property. 

“I’m trying to figure out why people do such vandalism to our city,” Stapleton told CBC News.

Jewish Deli’s Jonathan Richler says graffiti can be an art form — but also can be destructive. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

 According to Stapleton, the city currently pays a contractor $18,000 a year to help remove graffiti from damaged property. 

I’m sure 99.9 per cent of our residents do not approve.– Coun. Deanne Stapleton

City staff also deal with graffiti, and can repaint objects, such as walls and benches, that have been defaced. The city also uses power washers and chemical removers.

If graffiti is noticed on a residence, the city will ask the property owner for it be removed. It than becomes the responsibility of the property owner, and not the city.

Stapleton says a graffiti task force would work with groups like the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and youth groups around the community to manage graffiti. 

Stapleton added she has already met with the RNC, with another meeting scheduled in the coming weeks.

Coun. Deanne Stapleton, left, will lead the graffiti task force. She is scheduled to meet with the RNC on the matter in the coming weeks. (Chris O’Neill-Yates/CBC)

The task force’s main objective’s would include pushing for less graffiti, quicker action on graffiti related incidents, and a push for more art-based graffiti,

“Hopefully when we get that done, we can increase our resources,” Stapleton said.

What appears to be a Hindu swastika was painted on a utility box in the east end of St. John’s. (Submitted)

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Hate or stupidity? Swastikas on Stavanger Drive latest graffiti headache for St. John’s

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/city-graffiti-taskforce-1.5350139?cmp=rss
Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

Leave a Reply