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Hateful graffiti cause for concern

CJMP 901 FM draws awareness to harmful ignorant attitudes
Kyle Wells

Volunteers for CJMP 90.1 FM, Powell River’s community radio station, are disturbed over graffiti etched and drawn on the station’s door that they believe borders on a hate crime.

On the morning of Monday, January 9, CJMP’s station manager arrived at the station to find the words “faggot radio” carved into the door, along with the word “HUMP” written with a felt marker of some sort. Organizers at the station don’t know exactly when the vandalism occurred or who is responsible but they want the community to be aware of the act and its connotations.

Organizers at the station are particularly upset over the graffiti because they see it as going against everything the organization stands for. CJMP prides itself in the creation of an inclusive community where everyone is to feel welcomed and appreciated, regardless of any differences. While the graffiti certainly won’t dampen this spirit, station organizers still feel it’s a shame others don’t respect their values.

“We’re all about diversity and opinions,” said Angela LaFortune, director of operations. “It’s worth letting people in town know that there’s still some rather negative attitudes around town.”

One of the main concerns, and the reason that organizers at CJMP felt compelled to talk to the Peak about the incident, is that the people who committed the vandalism don’t understand the meaning behind their graffiti. Years ago LaFortune had her nose and jaw broken in an altercation with “a homophobic male” and is concerned that people don’t realize the hate and context behind the words they use.

“They’re using ‘faggot’ and ‘gay’ as just derogatory terms without even thinking about the historical use of the word,” said LaFortune. “It’s about hatred.”

LaFortune said she is worried people don’t understand the implications and meaning behind the words. Swastikas, the symbol used by the Nazi Party and modern racist organizations, have also appeared in recent graffiti in Powell River, something organizers at CJMP have noticed and have similar concerns over.

“When people don’t put themselves in other people’s shoes, they don’t realize the visceral, sudden adrenaline surge of fear when they see a symbol like that,” said LaFortune.

“It’s typically written by people that haven’t done the research in the first place,” said Keith Allen, treasurer. “It’s all about getting the community on the same page and when you see extremist outliers like that, it’s good to be aware of it.”

Moving forward, CJMP volunteers are painting the door to get rid of the graffiti and talking about the incident in the hopes of raising awareness.

“These things happen and here we are, 21st century, and it’s about time people caught on and let everybody do their thing,” said LaFortune.

Powell River RCMP are looking into the incident and ask anyone with any information to call the RCMP at 604.485.6255 or CrimeStoppers at 1.800.222.8477 (TIPS).