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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Swastikas painted on cars in Thornhill neighbourhood

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Peter Shurman

TORONTO — Police are appealing for witnesses who may have information about anti-Semitic vandalism that targeted four cars in Thornhill last week.

Residents of Beverley Glen Boulevard and Mountbatten Road, which run west of Bathurst, north of Centre Street, found three swastikas and male genitalia painted on cars in the neighbourhood.

The incident came only a few weeks after vandals carved a large swastika into the green on the 14th hole at the Richmond Hill Golf Club. And in June, a family near Baycrest found swastikas painted inside and outside their garage, along with the threat, “Watch your children.” An adult and two youths were arrested in connection to the vandalism.

Police have made no arrests in the Beverley Glen incident. The criminal investigations branch, in co-operation with the York Regional Police’s (YRP) hate crimes unit, are investigating, said YRP spokesperson Const. Andy Pattenden.

“This is a repulsive act of anti-Semitism that cannot go unpunished. We will remain in close contact with local law enforcement until this matter is resolved,” said David Spiro, Greater Toronto co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). 

“We are confident the York Regional Police will do their utmost to apprehend the perpetrators of this crime and charge them appropriately,” added Joel Reitman, CIJA’s Greater Toronto co-chair.

B’nai Brith Canada called on residents with any information to report it to police.

“These incidents are just the latest of what appears to be an upsurge in hate-based vandalism that we have documented over the past few weeks,” said Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith’s CEO.

“Nine years ago, numerous homes in Thornhill were defaced with swastikas and other messages of hate. Those hate crimes have not been solved to this day and no perpetrators identified. With the help of the public, this does not have to be the case in this latest series of incidents.”

Conservative MPP Peter Shurman called the Beverley Glen incident “just a reflection of what must now be termed an unwelcome and nasty trend within our community. Not only can we see tangible proof that racism remains a fact of life within our midst, but also an unacceptable, yet ever-present, aspect of our daily life.

“What is more sinister is that this is occurring right here in multicultural Thornhill and the GTA. In the last six months alone, the GTA has recorded numerous cases of anti-Semitic vandalism and it seems to me that the perpetrators have become more emboldened of late.

“As the MPP for Thornhill and as a target of anti-Semitism myself, I strongly urge the York Regional Police to be unrelenting and vigilant in seeking out the perpetrator of these heinous acts and to treat these incidents for exactly what they are, hate crimes,” Shurman said.

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