A week after a message in bright, neon orange spray paint that read, “Hitler was right,” was discovered on a concrete barrier on Highway 400 near Vaughan Mills Mall in York Region, north of Toronto, police responded to another call in Aurora, where the same message was found spray painted, likely by the same person.
York Regional Police are investigating two separate incidents: the first, on Sept. 1, on the side of the ramp coming from Bass Pro Mills Drive, while going south on Highway 400; and the latest discovery on Sept. 7, also on Highway 400, on an overpass in Aurora.
Police spokesperson Const. Laura Nicolle said they received several calls beginning at 7 a.m. on Sept. 7 about the graffiti on the overpass.
“It was the same expression and the same orange spray paint as the previous incident,” she said.
According to the statement that was by released by police following the first incident, hate crime investigators are calling for witnesses, or anyone with dash cam footage, to come forward.
“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,” the police said in a statement.
Noah Shack, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs’ interim vice-president of the Greater Toronto Area, said CIJA is concerned by the frequency of these hate crimes.
“In addition to working with police, our best response is to mobilize our non-Jewish allies to speak out and condemn anti-Semitism for what it is – a toxic form of hate that has no place in Canada,” he said, urging people to join CIJA and more than 50 other community organizations in a joint declaration against hate.
In a Facebook post, B’nai Brith Canada shared a photo of the newest graffiti and wrote: “There is no place in our society for such disgusting hatred, and we will continue to remain vigilant in the face of racism and anti-Semitism.”
Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, who was at the scene on Sept. 1 to document the incident and the police response, uploaded a video to his organization’s Facebook account that called on the government to recognize and act on the increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the province.
“There is an incredible amount … of anti-Semitism here in our community, here in our province of Ontario. We’re asking the government, the attorney general of Ontario, to please take these matters seriously, prosecute them as a hate crime and deal with it. I’m happy to see the police are here dealing with it, I’m happy to see its being removed, but you can’t just erase hate so easily and simply,” Benlolo said.
He called on concerned members of the community to sign a petition titled “Stand Up To Hate.”
The petition, addressed to Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and
Assistant Deputy Attorney General Susan Kyle, states that “white supremacism and Nazism is having a resurgence.” It cites the speakers at the recent Al-Quds Day rally at Queen’s Park who threatened to annihilate the Jews and Israel; Your Ward News, an anti-Semitic publication that’s being distributed in parts of Toronto; and the increase in hate crimes in Ontario.
It calls on Naqvi and Kyle “to take immediate action in prosecuting hate crime and in replying effectively to community concerns.”