Man leaves homophobic letter on inclusive art gallery, family calls it ‘hate crime’
Posted June 15, 2021 5:20 pm.
Last Updated June 15, 2021 6:42 pm.
EDMONTON (CityNews) — A front yard art installation in Edmonton that aims to show support for those facing trauma or oppression — including Indigenous, Muslim, Black and LGBTQ2S+ communities — was subject to what owners are calling a “hate crime.”
The goal of the 127th Garden Gallery, on the front yard of Dellas Wreikkinen’s house, is to promote love and togetherness.
But what 9-year-old Augustus found on the art gallery Monday was anything but: a typed-up letter sharing homophobic rhetoric.
“We actually read the letter with our son,” said Wreikkinen. “He was the first one to read it. He crumpled the letter up and threw it out. We did retrieve it, because it’s evidence in what I consider a hate crime.”
Security footage shows a man biking up to the Garden Gallery Monday around 3 a.m. The man appears to be carrying a bag containing a large stack of papers.
The family posted about the incident on social media, where the man’s face was purposely covered because he “still has a right to defend himself,” said Wreikkinen.
CityNews agreed with the Wreikkinens’ request to blur the face so as not to interfere with the police investigation.
“(He) decided to sneak into our yard and scar our message with his own bigoted message,” Wreikkinen wrote on the Facebook post. “Using religion writing to excuse his hate. Taping an anti-gay hate filled letter over one of our pictures.”
Since the episode was shared on social media, other Edmontonians have come forward to recount similar experiences.
“People have been sharing that they’ve been experiencing the same thing for up to a year,” said Wreikkinen.
One of those is Victoria Stevens, who found the same letter Monday at the salon she owns: Metropolitan Rockabilly Hair Design. She says she’s received similar literature numerous times and assumed it was because she strives to have an inclusive salon.
“I crumpled it up and threw it away, because I’ve read it so many times,” said Stevens. “But then (after seeing the post), I started thinking, people who are part of the LGBTQ2S+ community, how harmful it could be for someone who is already struggling, or has a history of trauma.”
Now that Stevens knows it’s happening to others, she says she’ll report it to police if it happens again.
Edmonton police say they’ve only received one formal complaint at this time, and it’s under investigation.
“We have to stand for those people who are being knocked down,” said Wreikkinen.
The father says he is not backing down and will continue to fly the Pride flag at the 127th Garden Gallery. The whole art installation was inspired by his son Augustus.
“I just want to tell the people, we’ve got your backs, and we love you,” said Augustus. “It’s meant to support, to make people feel happy and feel loved.”