An anti-Olympic mural that was removed after the city deemed it graffiti once again adorns the facade of an art gallery in the Downtown Eastside.
Civil-rights watchdogs have pointed at the mural’s removal as proof of the threat to freedom of expression during the Games.
But a Vision councillor maintains that the removal order, while regrettable, was simply a case of staff acting in good faith after receiving complaints.
“I think, frankly, that it’s just a bit of a bureaucratic snafu, said Coun. Geoff Meggs yesterday.
“I’m sorry that it happened, but it’s not representative of how we want to protect civil rights during the Games. And we’ve been adamant that we do.”
The mural shows five Olympic rings, four with frowning faces, the fifth with a smiley face. It had hung for three months on the front of The Crying Room art gallery on Cordova Street at Main Street.
It was taken down in November under the city’s graffiti bylaw. The mural was back up this weekend (the grin on the smiley face is bigger).
COPE Coun. Ellen Woodsworth called its removal a violation of free speech and artistic expression.
David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the city should treat anti-Olympic messaging the same as pro-Olympic messaging.
The display space had been used since 2003 without incident.