Geneva mayor condemns defacing of Pride hydrant as well as one vandalized with swastika

  • Artist Chrissy Swanson repainted the Art on Fire hydrant in Geneva with pride and transgender colors after it was defaced again over the weekend.

    Artist Chrissy Swanson repainted the Art on Fire hydrant in Geneva with pride and transgender colors after it was defaced again over the weekend. Provided photo

 
 
Updated 8/2/2022 4:37 PM

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns condemned the repeated defacing of a Pride-painted fire hydrant and another hydrant marked with a Nazi swastika over the weekend.

"Silence in the face of bigoted and hateful assaults on others are acts of complicity," Burns said Monday night. "Imagine being so fragile, so unwell, so paranoid, narrow-minded and afraid of a pattern of colors that you are compelled to attempt to erase those colors time and time again."

 

Pride and transgender colors that were painted on the hydrant at Kirk Road and State Street as part of the city's Art on Fire program have been defaced multiple times, prompting artist Chrissy Swanson to repaint it each time.

"Imagine for a moment that a symbol of inclusion is so upsetting to you that you believe inclusion of others diminishes your own standing, your own place in this world," Burns said. "So upsetting that you have to go out of your way while traversing a busy roadway to pull over and try to erase such a symbol."

Burns noted that a suspect was charged last week with defacing the hydrant -- and yet it was defaced again over the weekend, and this time with a phrase to encourage violence on the LGBTQ+ community.

"To the weak, broken and despicable person who committed this latest crime, be advised, you will be found. You will be arrested. You will be charged. And you will be prosecuted," Burns said. "Your intimidation failed. We will not be scared into silence or frightened into not living our most authentic lives."

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Burns said Geneva is an inclusive and welcoming community and will remain so.

"Bigotry has a way of attracting even more bigots," Burns said. "Just yesterday, it was reported to the Geneva Police Department that another fire hydrant -- one that was not part of the Art on Fire program -- nevertheless was defaced with one of the most heinous symbols known to humankind, the swastika."

He called it a "visual obscenity" and vowed to find and charge the person responsible.

Swanson spoke to the aldermen and Burns, thanking them, police and various groups and individuals for their continuing support.

Calling the hydrant a "pride-rant," Swanson said she had a goal in repainting it. "We want people to live in an area of safety, respect and peace."

"I believe we can't forget about this. It will not go away," Swanson said. "We need to cover this infection that is hatred and treat it so it does not continue to fester unchecked until the situation is out of control."

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