WATCH: Defaced mural denounced as racist act

It's a mural that took a year to complete; the painting of the profile of a young smiling black woman took several days alone.

But it took a short period overnight for vandals to painstakingly whitewash the face and hand of the woman in an act that the mural artists are denouncing as racist and unacceptable.

The colourful, block-long mural on a wall on Knox Street in Pointe St. Charles was only completed this past August.

One of the artists who helped paint the mural, Marco Sylvestro, passed by it yesterday and it was fine. This morning, he saw that someone had carefully painted over the face and the hand of the black woman with white paint, even staying inside the lines.

"This is clear to me that it's racist. It's not just a tag. I have no problem with tags but this is a racist thing," Sylvestro told reporters.

The mural features a group of people playing music, a gathering of young people, a garden and a young man hugging a giant planet Earth in his lap with the galaxy in the background. It's ironically titled "Le Point All-Dressed", reflecting the cultural diversity of the area, with the young black woman one of the focal points of the mural.

The artists' collective responsible for the mural say they don't believe this is related to the proposed Charter of Values but add it doesn't help quell the debate.

Shaen Johnston is also part of the artists' collective. Johnston, whose daughter was the main artist who worked on the painting of the woman, said this does not reflect their neighbourhood.

"Stomach-churning. It's very sad. People who do that, they don't belong in this country because this is a country built on multi-ethnicity," Johnston said.

The artists say they'll try to clean up the mural and restore it as quickly as possible to discourage further vandalism, but add that it won't be easy in the cold weather.

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