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Friday, July 31, 2015

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Vandals target Calgary and Ontario shuls

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Just days after the 71st anniversary of Kristallnacht – the anti-Jewish riots in Nazi Germany on Nov. 9-10, 1938 – Calgary police were investigating incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism that took place this past Saturday night.

As well, at least two Ontario synagogues, one in Oshawa and one in Barrie, had swastikas spray-painted on them over the weekend.

Len Rudner, Ontario regional director of Canadian Jewish Congress, said the Calgary vandalism was “quite nasty.”

According to a Nov. 16 report from radio station 660 News in Calgary, the Calgary Jewish Community Centre’s marble Holocaust memorial, as well as a number of synagogues, bus stops and a private home, were among the targets.

The report said investigators were reviewing surveillance tapes of the culprits, but weren’t sure they’d be able to identify the offenders from the video. They believe they’re looking for two or more suspects. The case is being reviewed by the Calgary police hate crimes unit, the report said.

Rudner learned on Monday morning, shortly before The CJN went to press, that a swastika had been spray-painted on Beth Zion Congregation on King Street East in Oshawa, about 50 kilometres east of Toronto.

A swastika was also discovered Saturday morning on an exterior wall of Am Shalom Synagogue on Huronia Road in Barrie, about an hour north of Toronto. The swastika, painted in black, measured about 10 inches by 10 inches, according to Sgt. Peter Dewsnap of the Barrie Police Service.

Dewsnap told The CJN on Monday morning that police are looking at video surveillance as part of the investigation, and he encouraged the public to come forward with any information.

A media release from Barrie police classified the incident as “mischief,” but Dewsnap said that “targeting one specific group” is considered a hate crime.

Rudner said that damage to property is considered “mischief,” but that in addition to more blatant hate crimes such as advocating genocide, motivation is a contributing factor to the classification of a crime and can affect the sentence given on conviction.

“From our point of view, clearly a swastika painted on the side of a synagogue suggests a motivation.”

To contact Barrie police with information about the incident at Am Shalom, call 705-725-7025.

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