CALGARY — A full investigation is underway in Calgary after anti-Semitic messages were spray-painted on mailboxes, signs at Jewish synagogues and even a war memorial in honour of survivors of the Holocaust.
The racist graffiti included swastikas and several hateful messages, such as “Kill Jews” and “6 million more” and was done sometime over the weekend.
“These despicable offences appear to be targeting the Jewish community in our city and this simply is not acceptable in this community or any of the other communities that make up Calgary,” said Calgary Police Insp. Richard Hinse, commander of District 6 where the crimes occurred.
The graffiti was mainly centred near the Calgary Jewish Centre and another Jewish facility in a second southwest Calgary neighbourhood. Thirteen years ago, a letter bomb was sent to the offices of the Jewish National Fund at the Jewish Community Centre but failed to explode. No one claimed responsibility.
“I think it’s a worry for our community in general. It’s not just a worry for the Calgary Police Service, it’s for all Calgarians. This is upsetting. It’s insulting to our community and we’re all worried about such a crime,” said Hinse.
Police are counting on help from the public and a surveillance tape to help nab the culprit.
“We have secured surveillance of the culprit who has committed this offence. We’re reviewing that surveillance video right now,” he explained.
“We hope that somebody will come forward from the community that will provide us with the key to make the arrest in regards to these offences.”
Hinse said it’s possible others were involved as well. At this point it is not possible to call this a hate crime, he added.
“Right now it meets the parameters of that, but really what you have to do is get to the heart of interviewing who did this act,” Hinse said.
“This could be kids who have no hate in their hearts to have done something like this or it could be a group that does. So really it’s classifying this after we’ve had a chance to talk to those who have committed it.”
Insp. John McReynolds of the Calgary Police Diversity Resource Unit said these incidents are rare but “even one is too many.”
“I don’t know what it is at this point. I can’t call it a hate crime. We’d have to find out what the motive behind it was before we can take that leap. It’s a hate incident at this point,” he noted.
An official with the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership condemned the attack. The Calgary-based organization is dedicated to promoting ethical leadership across the country.
“It’s another really good example of why we need to be really vigilant about human rights in this country,” said Kelly Ernst.
The anti-Semitic graffiti shows that a few individuals still harbour “irrational hate” for religious, cultural and ethnic minorities, said Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann.
“It’s profoundly saddening that some people still choose to spread racist propaganda,” Swann said.
“My hope is that the perpetrators of this crime are simply misguided — perhaps children or teenagers who lack proper role models,” he added.
“If the perpetrators are adults, who should therefore know better, I hope that they are brought to justice and punished to the full extent of the law.”