Vancouver police investigating vandalism of church's Pride installation for possible hate crimes
An artistic installation set up for Pride Month in Vancouver has been defaced, and the city’s police department confirmed its hate crimes team is part of the investigation.
The brightly coloured doors with the words “God’s Doors Are Open For All” sitting outside the Shaughnessy Heights United Church were splashed with white paint, as well as the sidewalk near the display.
“It just infuriates me that people feel that hate-filled, that they have the energy to come over and deface private property that’s trying to spread love in the world,” Shaughnessy Heights United Church’s Reverend Dave Moors told CTV News Vancouver in an interview Tuesday.
The church is located in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver, on West 33 Avenue.
Moors said he was disheartened and saddened by what had happened.
“It defeats some labour, but more than that, it continues to poke at a community of people that are filled with love, and a church like ours that’s trying to love all of God’s children and be an inclusive, welcoming place,” said Moors.
“I do also understand that it’s a safety issue for our sisters, brothers and siblings in the LGBTQA2S+ community, that this just continues to say that there are people with hateful hearts out there and those hearts are aimed at our friends and our community members,” the reverend continued.
Sgt. Steve Addison of the Vancouver Police Department wrote in an email statement to CTV News Vancouver they have yet to identify any suspects, and that the vandalism happened sometime between the night of June 13 and the afternoon of June 14.
“This investigation is just beginning, and during the investigation we will look for various sources of evidence, including eyewitnesses, surveillance video, or any known suspects,” wrote Sgt. Addison.
When asked if the vandalism would deter the church from similar displays and statements in the future, Moors said it had instead strengthened the community’s resolve.
“An incident like this, of vandalism, just reminds us that Pride Month is very much still needed, and the message that it sends, and the teaching that it provides is very much needed in our society,” he said.
Moors said he wants Christian churches to “step up” and be more inclusive of all people, and to see the Bible used as a “tool of love, instead of a weapon of hate.”
“The person who defaced the doors and left a cross behind as if to say we weren’t being Christian enough or didn’t understand the Bible or something, just drives me mad,” he said.
Moors added that when he and a partner within the ministry spoke about putting up the doors, he expected that if they were vandalized, it would be by another Christian.
“Sure enough, sadly, that prediction came true,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Addison told CTV News Vancouver the vandalism was “very concerning.”
“We take seriously any incident that appears to show hate, bias, or prejudice against any identifiable group,” he added.
Similar acts of vandalism have happened in Metro Vancouver over the past few years.
Someone vandalized Surrey, B.C.’s first-ever rainbow crosswalk during Pride Month in June 2018. Then that August, a rainbow crosswalk in nearby White Rock was defaced, and someone vandalized a rainbow crosswalk in Burnaby less than two weeks later.
Reverend Moors says the church community plans to repaint the doors as early as Wednesday morning.
“We’re not going to stop. We’ll keep painting them. If a person cuts them down, we’ll build more doors.”