A banner hung on an overpass south of Campbell River depicting a white nationalist statement is “not something we want our community to be known for,” says RCMP Sgt. Chris Voller.
The banner, which displayed a link to a Telegram Channel, which the company says is a “tool for broadcasting your public messages to large audiences” as well as a message with white supremacist content, was pictured hanging on the Airport Main overpass where it crosses Highway 19. The image has been shared on Facebook as well as Reddit, and had come to the attention of the Campbell River RCMP detachment.
“Like any other citizen of our area, I was disappointed,” said Voller. “I look at Campbell River as having a pretty diverse cultural background. We have a lot of Indigenous people, we’re a melting pot society, we have all this representation and then there’s somebody who is deciding to put this kind of message out.
“It’s twofold: it’s the wrong message — obviously that sort of thing has no place in Campbell River — and then two, to other individuals who are visiting our area it really reflects poorly on what I think Campbell River’s community base is,” he said. “It’s a good, respectful group of people that finds that different cultures actually enrich community and don’t take away from it, as that person would purport.”
Voller’s sentiment was echoed on social media. One Reddit user wrote in response to a person of colour living in Campbell River that “this is DEFINITELY not what CR is about. A group of my friends drove down to take it down, but it was already cut. Please know that you are more than welcome in our community.”
Voller said the detachment had another report about this kind of thing a few months ago. He is asking if people see further banners or messages like this to report them to the RCMP non-emergency line immediately.
“We would never promote a driver using a digital device, but if they could note if there’s a person or vehicle present there, we would value that,” he said. “If they are able to wait with it, let the police know and we’ll get there as soon as possible… Please leave it as it is, let the police get there and handle it. It would be treated as evidence.”
Though the social media attention could have the effect of increasing the message’s reach, Voller said that within Campbell River he thinks there is “no appetite for that.”
“People deserve to not have to see that. There’s enough tragic things going on in the world that draw our attention to negative things, we don’t need this in Campbell River,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve seen something that I believe is a race-based hate crime. It’s hard to say if this would meet the definition for a hate crime, but it’s certainly inflammatory. It’s racialized, and not anything that we would want to have in our community.”
“Our community has gone through a lot,” he said “We’ve had a lot of issues, especially in the past few months with violence and this sort of thing, and this is just not becoming of our community.”
The RCMP non-emergency line is 250-286-6221.