Residents of Dresden come together to eradicate signs of hatred

DRESDEN – This community has come together to erase the signs of hate that have appeared on picnic tables that were originally turned into works of art by local volunteers to spread messages of positivity and d ‘love.

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DRESDEN – This community has come together to erase the signs of hate that have appeared on picnic tables that were originally turned into works of art by local volunteers to spread messages of positivity and d ‘love.

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Chatham-Kent Police reported on Tuesday that anti-gay slurs found scrawled on some picnic tables in Stranak Park were being investigated as a ‘hate-motivated incident’ due to the posts containing threats of violence.

But that’s not the only incident of vandalism to picnic tables here.

Dresden Night Market organizer Morena McDonald said the rainbow she painted on a picnic table as part of the Summer 2022 Community Picnic Table Painting Project , had been targeted earlier this month when Xs were burned there.

She said members of the Dresden Shines community group, which led efforts to brighten the tables, noticed the damage and quickly let her know what happened. She added that volunteers had already started sanding the Xs after letting them know she wanted to fix the table.

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McDonald said volunteers, including local artists, spent a lot of time and effort decorating 33 picnic tables in a variety of ways, some with positive messages toward the 2S LGBTQ+ community.

Noting that vandalism and graffiti happens everywhere, McDonald said, “It was so disheartening to see it happening so quickly.”

McDonald said local artist Sarah Steele heard she was fixing the damaged table, so she joined in and “helped bring another level of creativity to the table”.

Steele said they just brainstormed and met in the rain to redo the painting with the message “Love Wins” engraved on it.

This picnic table, which originally had a rainbow that was vandalized earlier this month, has a new design with the message
This picnic table, which originally had a rainbow that was vandalized earlier this month, has a new design with the message “Love Wins”. (photo added) jpegs, CDs

“I keep saying it used to be just a rainbow table, but when you feel a little pressure to do something even better, we’ve made it a giant gay table now “, she laughed.

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They also created a TikTok video showing how they fixed the table and it went viral.

“We don’t expect things like this to go viral, but when it’s something so meaningful with a community rallying around this little pocket of hate, I think that’s the kind of thing that we want to go viral for,” Steele said.

She said the picnic tables have been a huge addition to the community and are noticed by visitors to Dresden. She added that people were commenting that it was a good idea and they wanted it to spread to other communities.

“That’s the kind of reputation Dresden wants,” Steele said.

Artist Sarah Steele and Morena McDonald decorated this picnic table in Dresden with the inclusive message
Artist Sarah Steele and Morena McDonald decorated this picnic table in Dresden with the inclusive message “You can sit with us”. Photo added jpegs, CDs

She noted that when the latest incident of vandalism occurred, local resident Glen Murray was right, quickly removing the offensive posts.

“It’s almost like this negative thing turned into a community gathering and made it even more of a community effort,” Steele said. “We took that bad thing and turned it into a good thing.”

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