By Mike Anderson
York Regional Police have concluded their investigation into an act of vandalism involving lewd and racist graffiti that occurred at Constable Garrett Styles Park in the Simcoe Landing subdivision in Keswick on the night of March 21.
Racist words, including the N-word and sexualized images, were spray-painted over a large area, including the playground surface and play apparatus.
Initially, Town staff covered up multiple sections with black plastic until a contractor could permanently remove the graffiti.
At least one surface area displayed the N-word, and Town staff covered up or removed another two N-words on the playground slide.
According to a YRP spokesperson, officers were called to a residence in Simoce Landing on March 22 after two children confessed to being responsible.
“Both children were spoken to by police and were remorseful for their actions,” said Const. Laura Nicolle in a media release.
“Due to their ages, one of the children was given a warning and consequences were discussed with the child’s family. The older of the two was eligible to be referred to the community referral program through the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which provides alternative resolutions for youth who have committed a criminal offence.”
According to a Town spokesperson, the spray paint has been removed, and there will be no need to replace the children’s slide. However, the Town did not provide cost details, although some estimates run upwards of $2,000.
Constable Garret Styles Park, 176 Laurendale Ave., is located in Councillor Mike Waddington’s ward.
“These kids made a huge mistake, and our community rallied together to make sure they were caught and that we showed racist comments have no place in Georgina,” said Waddington in a Facebook Post.
“Thank you to YRP for taking this situation so seriously, and thank you to everyone who helped in their investigation.”
According to Waddington, this isn’t the first time racist graffiti has appeared in Ward 1.
A similar incident at Lake Simcoe Public School in 2020 featured homophobic and racist graffiti.
“We had a solidarity walk, shortly afterward, just showing that racism and hate have no place in the community, but, obviously, someone didn’t get the message,” he said.
“This isn’t welcome in our community. Hate has no place here.”
The Mayor was also quick to condemn the racist graffiti.
“This park is in memory of fallen York Regional Police officer Garrett Styles, representing a safe place for children and families to gather. Racism does not belong there or any other place in our community. Racism in any form is unacceptable and is not consistent with our community’s core values,” said Mayor Margaret Quirk in a statement released to media on March 21.
Kendra Mullings, acting chair of the Georgina Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee (GEDAC), told the Post she was also angry and disappointed by the children’s actions.
“While I know that this act does not reflect the views of the majority of Simcoe Landing residents, it perpetuates the image of Georgina as a racist community, and that is so disappointing to all of us here who are actively working towards bettering this community in terms of acceptance for all,” she said.
Mullings was particularly upset that racist graffiti was spray-painted in a park dedicated to a fallen police officer.
“The location of the graffiti, on top of being racist and inappropriate in so many ways, also dishonours the memory of Constable Styles, which shows a lack of awareness and compassion for what is important to longtime Simcoe Landing residents,” she said.
“I’m saddened because yet again, I have to have another conversation with my children about how the world sees them, and this is the world right outside our front door. We frequent this park as a family. This disruption of my children’s childhoods and their right to feel safe in their community is unfair.”
“This incident says that our community has more work to do around dismantling anti-black racism. It is a reminder that like all communities, Simcoe Landing has people with racist views, and the work must continue as there is no acceptable level of racism.”
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