The vandalisation of an Oakville, Ontario cenotaph commemorating Ukrainian soldiers who served in a Nazi SS division during World War II was no longer being considered a hate crime by police following public backlash, Halton Regional Police confirmed Friday.
The words «Nazi War Monument» were spray-painted on the cenotaph, which commemorates the 1st Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army, at the St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery between June 19 and June 21, according to sources citing investigators.
The memorial was subsequently cleaned by cemetery groundkeepers.
«The men who are buried here, even if they didn't commit any atrocities, were still associated with a group that has been held responsible to those atrocities,» one Oakville resident said.
«After your relatives in Ukraine have to go through so much currently, and to see this is just another slap in the face. It's very low,» another Oakville resident said.
Regional police originally characterised the vandalisation as a «hate-crime.» Following public backlash, police retracted that categorisation on Friday.
The 1st Ukrainian Division was created following the reformation of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS and fought alongside Nazi Germany against the Soviet Red Army during World War II.