A Black Creek artist has been expelled from displaying his art in a local church after creating a baseball cap with a swastika painted on the front.
On Tuesday morning (Feb. 15), Brian Scott posted a photo on his Instagram and Facebook accounts of the hat, along with the message “Paint anything for money vets of ww2 would not approve.”
The post was shared on the Comox Valley Rants & Raves page (15,200 members) and the community reaction was immediate. More than 250 comments were posted within 12 hours.
Page administrators said they were hesitant to allow the post, but after holding it for a day, they chose to publish it.
“I am usually so strict about no naming and no shaming people in the group … but I gave him a solid 24 hours to remove the post; many people begged him to remove it. And he still not only would not, he made more posts bragging about it,” said one administrator.
Comox Valley Regional District director Arzeena Hamir, who saw the post, said she was disgusted.
“As should everybody,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your background is. It’s incredibly abhorrent that someone would offer to (be a) painter for hire, and say ‘I don’t care what I do. Willing to paint things that offend people…’ It certainly needs to be called out.”
The Little Red Church Arts Community, where Scott has been displaying his work, has since expelled him. A post was published on the group’s Facebook page Wednesday evening, declaring “Brian Scott is no longer at the Little Red Church.”
When contacted by Black Press Media, Scott expressed little remorse.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he said, adding that he regrets posting the photo, although the posts remained up on both his Instagram and Facebook pages at the time of publication.
He said the hat was a one-off.
“I just did the one, for a biker. I made $20. I needed gas money, so I said ‘sure, I’ll do it.’ ”
He said that if anything, the reaction to his post has helped him.
“Salvador Dali said whether you get negative press or positive press as an artist, it doesn’t matter – your name is out there. As a result of all the negative press, I sold two paintings, and I am not at Little Red Church anymore so I save $700 a month in rent and gas driving back and forth. So it’s all good as far as I am concerned.
“If they want to call me a neo-Nazi well … people will believe anything. So anyway, go have fun with that.”
He also implied on a Facebook post that his lack of sales at the Little Red Church was the catalyst for creating the hat.
“I was (at) little red church 5 sunny days 20,000 cars went by met tourists from across Canada nobody spent a dime that’s why I paint nazi hats to put gas in my car duh what’s up doc,” reads the post.
The Little Red Church Arts Community refused to comment.
The City of Courtenay was also in discussions with Scott regarding an ‘art in the park’ project this summer at Simms Park.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells said the art project could still be a possibility, but Scott’s involvement in it is unlikely. Wells has yet to speak to staff regarding the issue.
“The art project itself, there may be other artists that would be interested in doing it… there are other people in the community that can do it, and that have done other similar projects,” Wells said.
“You don’t start putting swastikas on your Facebook page and telling people to go to hell, that’s not (acceptable).
“You talk about freedom of speech, but you start doing that stuff and you aren’t going to get any sympathy - you’ll get the opposite. I don’t think he understands the reputational damage he has done, from the fallout of this. There is certainly a line that has been crossed here. There are symbols that are used only for hate, and only used by institutions that aren’t accepted in any way. At no point since after 1945 has Nazi memorabilia been (acceptable). It’s total tone-deafness there.”
Comox Valley RCMP confirmed that a file has been opened and they are investigating the case, but there’s likely little they can do at this time.
“It is not illegal in Canada to display a swastika or any sort of flag containing that,” said Comox Valley RCMP media relations liaison, Const. Monika Terragni. “We’ve got Sections 318-320 of the Criminal Code that does indicate what Canada defines a hate crime as, which essentially is anything that is advocating or promoting (inciting) hate. Unfortunately, Canada is one of those countries simply displaying the Nazi symbol is not an offence.”