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'White Lives Matter' posters show up in New Hamburg one day after verdict in George Floyd murder

Police are now appealing for video footage in the area
white lives matter poster
Part of a 'white lives matter' poster, several of which showed up in New Hamburg on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. The poster also included a date and time for a rally to be held.

Just one day after a landmark ruling in the United States convicting a former Minneapolis police officer in the murder of George Floyd, posters showed up in New Hamburg advertising a "White Lives Matter" rally.

Wilmot Ward 2 Councillor Cheryl Gordijk was unsurprised by the posters. 

"I just wasn't sure that it would happen that quickly in Wilmot Township, that we would have posters," said Gordijk. "I'm disappointed, I'm frustrated, I'm angry, and I'm really hurt."

Gordijk said the posters and potential event speak to an "underbelly" in the township that goes without acknowledgement.

"We, as a township, I don't believe we have done a good enough job in our leadership to let people know that racial hate crimes are not acceptable, racial hate speech is not acceptable.

She was one of several councillors who immediately voiced their disgust and anger with the posters, though Wilmot Mayor Les Armstrong was not among those with a quick public reaction.

Last summer, the mayor shared a video that focused on the message of "white lives matter," captioning the post with, "Another view. Interesting." The mayor has since had to apologize twice, and was found in violation of two separate parts of the code of conduct stemming from the situation.

Groups that promote "white lives matter" seem to be ignorant to the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to Councillor Gordijk, who acknowledged that she doesn't mean to speak for the BIPOC community.

"The phrase 'Black lives matter' is just what I said: white lives have always mattered, it's the recognition that Black lives haven't mattered as much. And we need to be aware of those types of things. Black people and people of colour shouldn't have to worry that they're in the park, and someone is going to call on them because they've taken their shoes off and they're having a little bit of a sleep on a blanket. I can do that without the police coming over and checking on me. Why can't a Black person or a person of colour do the same thing without being construed that they're doing something illegal or something wrong, or that they're going to commit some sort of potential crime? It just needs to stop, it needs to stop."

Wilmot council is working on a unified statement to denounce the posters and potential rally.

Regional Police have also been made aware of the posters, and are looking for the potential organizers or who put the posters up. They're also appealing to the public for video footage in the area. 

This is not the first time something like this has happened in Wilmot, or in Waterloo Region. In the past year, posters promoting the 'Proud Boys' have shown up; a far-right anti-immigrant group that has been declared a terrorist group as of this year in Canada. Last summer, a group known as the Urban Infidels held a small gathering in Baden, classified as a hate group by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. Witnesses reported being screamed at with anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric. Posters with Nazi imagery also showed up in downtown Kitchener in July 2020.

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