Cenotaph vandalism suspect says he did it to protest Don Cherry’s firing
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, November 15, 2019 9:27AM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 15, 2019 2:51PM EST
A 33-year-old man facing charges after allegedly defacing the cenotaph at Old City Hall earlier this week was released on bail Friday, after the Crown expressed concerns about his mental state and a judge ordered he undergo counselling.
Thomas Christian Zaugg said in a Facebook post earlier this week that he spray-painted the monument to protest the firing of Don Cherry for making disparaging comments targeting immigrants.
Sometime overnight from Monday to Tuesday, a suspect spray-painted “Ye Broke Faith With Us.”
The words appear to reference the line, "If ye break faith with us who die," from John McCrae's poem 'In Flanders Fields.'
On Friday, police said they arrested a suspect they identified as Thomas Christian Zaugg of Toronto.
He was charged with one count of mischief under $5,000 and one count of mischief — interfere with property.
The spray paint was washed away within a day and the act drew widespread condemnation, with Toronto Mayor John Tory calling the act “disgraceful.”
In a Facebook post published two days ago, Zaugg said he had no choice but to spray the words on the cenotaph in the wake of Don Cherry’s firing from Coach’s Corner. Cherry was fired earlier this month after he slammed “you people… that come here” in a rant aimed at people not wearing poppies to honour Canada’s veterans and war dead each November.The rant was widely understood as targeting immigrants and sparked a wave of complaints, though Cherry denied that he meant to target any particular group.
In the post, Zauggsaid he did it to protest Toronto Mayor John Tory and Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s condemnation of Cherry’s comments, calling them “gutless cowards.”
“You could have just aseasily havestood up for Veterans and the forces by standing up for Don Cherry and clarifying what he was trying to say, instead of capitulating to a Twitter mob,” Zaugg wrote. “If you were stronger moral leaders for our cities, I would not have been compelled to do this act in order to make the political statement perfectly clear.”
He goes on to say that he had spoken with several active-duty military personnel and veterans about his plan to spray-paint the cenotaph who “have given it their blessing.”
In a video posted to his Facebook page, Zaugg said he delivered statements to Crombie and Tory’s offices admitting to the act.
On Friday, Mayor Tory’s office confirmed that they received an “unsigned letter” from someone purporting to have defaced the cenotaph, but they did not elaborate.
Speaking at an unrelated announcement Friday, Tory said there is no justification for ever vandalizing a monument to Canada’s war dead and he had to speak out against Cherry’s remarks.
“Don Cherry’s a person who has done good things in his life as all people have; he’s stood up for veterans and he’s helped other people,” Tory said. “But these comments that he made last weekend on television were clearly comments that any reasonable interpretation of them would say he was talking about people who had come to this country and somehow didn’t adequately appreciate the sacrifice of veterans and I just think those comments were way out of line, way over the top,” he said.
Zaugg appeared in court at Old City Hall on Friday morning, and appeared to argue with the duty counsel representing him.
Court heard that Zaugg has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and does not currently take medication.
He is studying to be a paralegal.
He was released on $750 bail with a surety.
A judge ordered that he must attend counselling, undergo a mental health assessment, not be near the area of the Old City Hall cenotaph and not possess paint.
Zaugg will appear next in court on Dec. 20 at 11 a.m.