Vancouver man accused in Chinatown graffiti spree heads to court

A Vancouver man accused of multiple acts of graffiti vandalism throughout the city’s historic Chinatown says there’s no evidence he’s responsible for the tags.

Larry Carlston, 61, is charged with eight counts of mischief for multiple alleged acts of vandalism, including on the Chinatown Plaza war memorial, the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens and numerous billboards.

Police allege the graffiti was painted between Jan. 2 and Feb. 1, when he was arrested.

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Speaking with Global News outside the Vancouver Provincial Court, Carlston denied the accusations.

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“You are accusing me of admitting to the crimes, which never happened, you are accusing me that tags are still showing up in Chinatown, but you have no evidence,” he said.

Carlston said what he did do was tell police what the graffiti meant.

“My exact words is I can interpret those tags for you, but that doesn’t mean that I’m the guy who did it,” he said.

Carlston said many of the tags he’s accused of painting are related to Indigenous rights and action, including referencing unceded land, the 215 suspected graves discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School or colonialism.

“KKK is KKKanada. That’s what we say Canada is all about. KKK is white supremacy. KKKanada is still doing what they did to us before that they apologized (for),” he said.

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“At the end of the day these are messages that people are sending out to the government, your reconciliation plan it’s probably completely dead.”

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Carlston, who admits he has at least 150 convictions for “mostly property crimes” in Saskatchewan, went on to say he has nothing against Chinatown.

But he said since moving to Vancouver about a decade ago he has been a voice for Indigenous resistance, and does have problems with government, police and some community leaders he feels have denigrated Indigenous people and the homeless in the area.

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That activism, according to Carlston, derailed his Wednesday court appearance.

The hearing was put over until Monday, which Carlston said was a result of the red and black leather vest he wore to court emblazoned with a variety of patches supporting Indigenous causes.

“They won’t let it in because they are saying it may look like a gang jacket to other gang members,” he said.

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“We are pleading not guilty and we will vigorously defend the charges,” he added.

“At the end of the day it isn’t about guilt and innocence, it’s about how are we going to come together as a people in this country.”

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