A makeshift memorial at the site where the body of an Australian comedian was found last week has been vandalized on the same day hundreds attended a community vigil to remember her life.
Eurydice Dixon, 22, was killed last Tuesday night as she walked home through Melbourne’s Princes Park after a performance in the Australian city. A 19-year-old man has been charged with her rape and murder.
One of the main organizers of the “Reclaim Prince’s Park” vigil said she hoped Monday night’s vigil would encourage people to stand in solidarity against acts of intimidation.
“This is our resistance, this is our park and we want to take this moment to commiserate,” Megan Bridger-Darling told CNN. “This is also about showing our love and support to Eurydice’s family.”
She said she did not want to focus on the earlier graffiti attack which involved a lurid symbol spray painted on the grass next to where the body was found.
Hundreds of people gathered Monday evening to remember Dixon’s life in Prince’s Park in Melbourne, and other Australian capital cities, including Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
Good friends Sophie Joske, 25, and Emily Carr, 29, arrived at the vigil and spoke to CNN about how the killing was every woman’s worst fear.
“Like everyone I’m feeling trauma and rage over this murder,” Emily said, “I think everyone is realizing there needs to be change.”
As the sun came down over the park, members of the local community held candles and stood silently in remembrance.
Many men laid flowers and attended the vigil including local Dylan Bushnell, 41, who also lit a blue candle in honor of Eurydice’s favorite color.
Bushnell told CNN men’s attitudes needed to change. “There needs to be more respect, women have the right to be able to get home safely,” said Bushnell. “This shouldn’t have happened, it’s horrific and I wanted to be here to pay my respects.”
Thousands of people took part in the peaceful vigil, including State premier Daniel Andrews, who arrived at the vigil alongside his visibly upset wife Catherine Andrews.
Vandalism discovered early morning
In the hours preceding the vigil, paint markings were found at the site of the memorial during routine patrols about 3.50 a.m. Monday morning, according to Luke Zammit, a spokesman for Victoria Police.
Flowers at the site weren’t disturbed but paint markings had to be cleaned from the area. Police declined to comment on what markings were daubed on the grass to discourage copycat behavior.
“A number of exhibits have been seized at the scene and the Dog Squad has been through the area,” he said. “Police will ensure the markings are removed as soon as possible and the investigation is ongoing.”
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said there was CCTV cameras in the area which he hoped would help track down those responsible.
“(It’s) terrible really, shocking,” he told ABC News.
Dixon’s death has shocked Australia and sparked an angry debate about women’s right to safety after police initially stated that they should make efforts to stay safe after dark.
Ashton told the ABC he agreed officers should have been more careful with their wording when they warned people to take take responsibility for their own well-being after the murder last week.
“Certainly for police when we’re giving out public safety messages we need to be really careful about how we do that,” Ashton said.
“If our language is not right, or isn’t precise, we understand that that can lead to a lot of anger.
“We weren’t about victim blaming and we certainly agree absolutely that women, and men for that matter, should have the right to walk around these public spaces when they want to walk around them, and do so safely.”