TORONTO — A 56-year-old Toronto man has been charged after a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald was torn down during a rally at a Hamilton park last weekend.
Some 200 people attended the Indigenous Freedom Rally at Gore Park on Saturday following a decision by city council to not remove the statue of Canada’s first prime minister from the park.
Macdonald is considered to be one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system. His legacy has come under fire in recent in recent months following the discoveries of thousands of unmarked burial sites at former residential school sites across the country.
A letter issued by protest organizers before the rally called the decision to keep the statue “deeply disturbing” to the city’s Indigenous community.
At approximately 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, police said that a female was seen scaling the statue to tie ropes, which were used to pull the structure down. Once the statue had been toppled over, police said it saw further damage by way of spray paint, a hammer and a grinder.
Police estimate the damage to the statue to be in excess of $5,000.
On Sunday, police released images of four suspects they believed were involved in the toppling over of the statue. Investigators said they received a number of tips and had grounds to arrest 56-year-old Miguel Martin Avila-Valarde.
He is charged with mischief over $5,000 and was released on an undertaking. He is set to appear in court at a later date.
Hamilton police said they anticipate that further charges will be laid as the investigation continues.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll free line is: 1 (800) 721-0066. A 24-hour crisis line for residential school survivors is: 1 (866) 925-4419 if you require further emotional support or assistance.
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