Demonstrators for the annual Women’s Memorial March this year saw the statue of John ‘Gassy Jack’ Deighton dragged to the ground by ropes. The bar owner’s significance to local history is that the Gastown neighborhood of Vancouver is named after him.
In response to the incident, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart labeled it as “dangerous.”
“The City of Vancouver has been in consultations with [the] Squamish Nation on the right way to remove the Gassy Jack statue & recognize the truth of John Deighton’s harmful legacy,” he tweeted.
Vancouver Police put out a statement on the matter. They said while “nobody was injured and no arrests have been made,” authorities are investigating. Officials estimate that the toppling happened at around 1:15 PM Monday afternoon, and that demonstrators threw paint on the statue in addition to pulling it to the ground.
The Women’s Memorial March has happened every February 14th in Vancouver, Canada since 1992. The proceedings for the 31st annual were livestreamed on YouTube. It’s an occasion undergone by supporters to raise awareness for indigenous women who’ve either went missing or were murdered.
A petition from roughly two years ago gives an estimate as to how long modern activists have interpreted it as a reminder of racism. That in itself stems from the reported stories about the age gap between 40-year-old John Deighton, and a girl from the Squamish First Nation being 12-years-old when they first married.
The last prominent instance involving protests and statues was when the initial Ottawa trucker convoy protests had given Terry Fox an upside-down flag, a cape, a hat, and a protest sign. After public outcry from officials, both the Terry Fox statue and other nearby memorial sites were given special attention for upkeep by demonstrators in the area.
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