Graffiti chaser vows to return to Pointe-des-Cascades’ Anchor Park
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Though likely predating WWII, the second of the two anchors bearing a swastika also has a plaque saying it’s “… un rare souvenir de l’époque hitlérienne.”
One of the smallest towns in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges MRC was the subject of intense social media scrutiny this week as an artefact at Pointe-des-Cascades’ Anchor Park museum fell into the sites of well-known Montreal graffiti chaser Corey Fleischer.
“The plaque next to the anchor states it’s from World War II,” Fleischer told Your Local Journal. “It’s major ignorance on the part of the Town of Point-des-Cascades.”
The item in question is an anchor whose fluke bears a symbol composed of the same lines as a swastika that, since the Second World War, is for many inextricably linked to Nazi Germany.
Fleischer owns Provincial Power Washing, a graffiti removal company and for the past several years, has undertaken – at his own expense – the task of removing anti-Semitic and hate-based graffiti. When a Facebook follower informed him of a swastika in Pointe-des-Cascades’ St. Pierre Park, the 34-year-old arrived this week with his power washing equipment in tow.
“What differentiates a Nazi swastika from every other swastika – Hindu or Buddhist – is a white circle in back of the black lines,” said Fleischer. “Whoever painted that relic transformed that swastika into a Nazi symbol.”
Indeed, in a file photo taken in April, 2015, on a plaque accompanying one of the two anchors in the park adorned with the symbols, the anchor is described as, “… un rare souvenir de l’époque hitlérienne.”
The symbols on the anchors are not rotated at a 45-degree angle as it was for Nazi Germany and many online have written that it predates WWII, a product of W.L. Byers of Sunderland, England, a supplier of ship anchors and chains.
“Whether or not the paint job was intended to resemble the Nazi symbol, it’s ignorance,” Fleischer stressed. “If you’re going to be painting swastikas, you should know what you’re talking about.”
On a video posted online, Fleischer’s actions prompted the town to call the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) who escorted him from the premises and though Fleischer said he hasn’t been officially charged, he vows to return to the site until the anchors, one weighing 1600 kilograms, the other 1800 kilograms, are gone.
The Town of Pointe-des-Cascades issued a communiqué August 21 that quotes Mayor Gilles Santerre saying, “The village of Pointe-des-Cascades does not endorse Nazism. Our village has a beautiful community and family spirit and creates events that bring people together. Parc des ancres is an open-air museum so that people can discover the history of our village. To avoid confusion, the city plans to install new plaques that will better explain the origins of these anchors.”
This is not sufficient for Fleischer who said the anchors should be permanently removed.
“They don’t belong in a public park,” he said. “This is a public domain for all ethnicities.” Fleischer further said that in a post-World War II era, the swastika is no longer a sign of peace it was once considered to be in the Hindu religion.
If the anchor, including the swastika, was painted a uniform colour and displayed with an updated plaque, Fleischer said it would be less offensive but still not acceptable in a public space.
“The only place for something like that is a museum where you pay to enter and know what you’ll be looking at,” he said. “This is a public domain. People are coming from all over. How does this reflect on Vaudreuil, or Quebec, or Canada? This is a beautiful place but they allow swastikas in their parks.”