VANCOUVER, BC—Vancouver city officials hope an apology now accepted by South Asian leaders will defuse community tension over the lack of punishment for a man who urinated on the Komagata Maru monument.
There was fresh outrage among Sikhs and supporters Tuesday when Vancouver Police announced there would be no criminal charges in the relation to the December incident, but gave few reasons.
On Thursday, VPD Chief Jim Chu said the man is a “severely addicted mentally ill” resident of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who signed an apology yesterday.
“I am sorry for what I did that day at the monument. I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” the apology states.
Chu said a key witness to the incident came forward Wednesday and his evidence confirmed the VPD’s conclusion that a criminal charge isn’t possible.
That left a bylaw ticket for urinating in public that Chu said didn’t make sense either in the case of a poor marginalized resident.
“This suspect needs the health system, not the justice system,” Chu said, adding the man likely did not realize the significance of the memorial to would-be immigrants turned away in a dark chapter of B.C. history.
“This disgusting act was clearly performed by someone who had no idea what he was doing,” added Vancover Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Khlasa Diwan Society president Sohan Deol endorsed the outcome.
The case was originally investigated as a hate crime.
The Komagata Maru’s 376 South Asian passengers were blocked from disembarking in Vancouver for two months in 1914 and were ultimately forced to return to India.