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A Quebec Mayor Is Refusing To Get Rid Of This Swastika In A Park

"They turned it into a Nazi symbol."

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Corey Fleischer has spent the last seven years erasing swastikas, slurs, and other messages of hate across Canada. But one Quebec town is determined to keep a swastika right where it is.

Corey Fleischer

Parc des Ancres, located in the village of Pointe-des-Cascades, has an anchor on display emblazoned with a swastika.

According to the town, the anchor was recovered from a lake in 1988 and may predate World War II. Although largely associated with Nazism, it's an ancient, sacred symbol in many cultures. In a statement, the village said putting one on an anchor would have been a symbol of "goodness and solidarity."

But Fleischer — who has removed thousands of swastikas — says the white circle with a black swastika can only represent one thing: Nazism.

Corey Fleischer

"What happened is, when this mayor and this city painted this, they turned it into a Nazi symbol," Fleischer told BuzzFeed Canada.

Fleischer is the man behind Erasing Hate, a free service that removes hate graffiti. He was alerted to the anchor in Pointe-des-Cascades by a tip and drove over last Thursday to remove it.

But as he was getting to work, the town's mayor found him and called the police.

Corey Fleischer

"He looked into my face and said, 'As soon as you leave, I’m painting that white circle and those black lines,'" Fleischer said.

The anchor has a plaque dating it to WWII, but not much more information. To Fleischer, the intent of the display doesn't matter because the symbol's meaning is undeniable.

"Ignorantly or planned or whatever it is … that symbol has been in the park with a white circle and black lines for the last 25 years," said Fleischer. "Just because it’s been there for 25 years doesn’t mean it’s OK."

But the village isn't budging.

"The village of Pointe-des-Cascades does not endorse Nazism," said Mayor Gilles Santerre in a statement. "Our village has a beautiful community and family spirit, and creates events that bring people together."

Corey Fleischer

The statement also said new plaques would be installed to "better explain" the objects in the park. The village referred to the park as an "open-air museum," which Fleischer also takes issue with.

"This is not a museum, this is a park, this is a neutral place, this is where people come together," he said. "This is an outdoor park that people pay their taxes to upkeep."

Fleischer said the mayor threatened to press charges, but no matter what, he's determined to see the anchor changed.

Corey Fleischer

"Imagine this was in downtown Toronto underneath the CN tower, what type of outrage would go on," he said. "It would be mayhem. Nobody would stand for this."

Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at lauren.strapagiel@buzzfeed.com.

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