Police in York Region, north of Toronto, and Halifax are investigating anti-Semitic and racist graffiti that was discovered recently.
On Sept. 27, Constable Laura Nicolle, a spokesperson for York Regional Police, said that “we received a call at just before 9 this morning, in regards to some anti-Semitic and anti-black graffiti at a school on River Ridge Boulevard in Aurora.”
Noah Shack, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ interim vice president, GTA, said CIJA was informed by its partners at the York Regional District School Board that anti-Semitic and anti-black graffiti was discovered at Hartman Public School in Aurora, Ont., on Sept. 27.
The graffiti included swastikas, the N-word, and the phrases, “Heil Hitler” and “F–k Jews.”
“We immediately contacted law enforcement at York Regional Police. They are investigating,” Shack said.
“We have also been in touch with the Vaughan African Canadian Association. This shameful act of bigotry is an affront to Canadians of all backgrounds. CIJA commends the quick reaction of the York Regional District School Board, who are committed to upholding Canada’s values of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Const. Nicolle said investigators are asking witnesses, or anyone with dashcam footage, to come forward by calling 1-866-876-5423 ext. 7141, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or texting your tip to CRIMES (274637), starting with the word “YORK.”
“York Regional Police will not tolerate hate crime in any form. These kinds of crimes not only hurt the community that has been targeted, but they hurt us all. We take great pride in being one of Canada’s safest and most inclusive communities and we remain vigilant in our fight against prejudice, discrimination and hate in our community,” police said in a statement.
Halifax Regional Police are also investigating after discovering a swastika on a sidewalk in downtown Halifax.
B’nai Brith Canada said that after a community member reported the graffiti, they called the police to remove it and investigate.
At around 9 p.m. on Sept. 26, “Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of swastika graffiti on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Halifax Public Gardens.… The file has been referred to our graffiti unit,” said Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Cindy Bayers.
“It’s shocking and offensive to see such a hateful symbol on our city’s streets. We have reached out to Halifax Police, and they have been very responsive. Their investigation is ongoing, and we encourage anyone with information to come forward immediately,” said Naomi Rosenfeld, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council.
“We know the vast majority of Haligonians reject anti-Semitism and warmly welcome their Jewish neighbours and other minorities as an integral part of our great city. This act will not diminish the fact that the Jewish community feels safe in Halifax.”
Aidan Fishman, interim national director for B’nai Brith Canada’s League for Human Rights, said he’s “disgusted to see this symbol of anti-Semitism on the sidewalk of Halifax, traditionally one of our country’s most welcoming cities. We have typically witnessed a relatively low number of anti-Semitic incidents in the Maritimes, but no part of our country is immune to hatred.”
Also in York Region, a leasing sign belonging to a realty company owned by a Jewish family was defaced by what appears to be an incomplete, or badly drawn, swastika.
B’nai Brith and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) reported the graffiti near Steeles Avenue and Dufferin Street to York Regional Police on Sept. 27.
“This incident cannot be looked at as just another act of vandalism that is often seen on public signs,” said FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo.
“The graffiti is clearly an attack against the Jewish community and must be dealt with seriously.”