Last month, a photo surfaced online of a man urinating on the recently built Komagata Maru monument at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour.
Responding to the social media storm over the offensive photo, the Vancouver Police Department’s Hate Crime Unit launched an investigation into the incident and has located and interviewed the man who is allegedly responsible for urinating on the monument.
However, he will not face any charges as the incident did not meet the necessary criteria for a conviction including any proof that a criminal offence took place. While the actions of an individual may be offensive and disrespectful, it does not make those actions criminal.
It has been suggested that police could have issued the man a bylaw ticket for the incident. This was, in fact, one of the options that was contemplated, but certain underlying facts and circumstances led to the conclusion that a bylaw ticket would not be appropriate.
The unidentified man urinated on the monument in December during an argument with an Indian tourist. Police investigators have spoken with the man, telling him that his actions were insensitive given the cultural significance of the memorial.
In 1914, a vessel called the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver (at the old pier where Canada Place sits today) from Punjab, India. Even though they were all British subjects, 352 passengers of Indian origin were not allowed to enter Canada due to the nation’s racist immigration laws.
The vessel was forced to return to India and upon arrival they were met by violence by the British colonial government’s police. 20 passengers were killed in the gunfire and many more were injured.