Antisemitic and anti-Black racist graffiti found at 3 York Region schools, police investigating
March 10, 2022
Antisemitic and anti-Black racist graffiti has been found at three public schools in York Region, according to the local school board.
The graffiti was discovered at two secondary schools and one elementary school, according to a letter obtained by CBC Toronto, which was written by Cecil Roach, associate director of education for the York Region District School Board. York Regional Police have confirmed that the secondary schools are in Newmarket.
"In the secondary schools, images of a swastika and the N-word were etched in bathroom stalls, and in the elementary school, a swastika was drawn on an interior door," Roach said in the letter on Wednesday.
The news comes as reports of antisemitic acts are on the rise, both in York Region, where graffiti was found on the school building of a former synagogue and at a park in Markham in January, and in several Toronto schools.
Roach said the board has reported the graffiti to police and is also trying to find out who is responsible and to hold the "wrongdoers" accountable. The board has sent notices home about the graffiti.
"We are disappointed that these incidents have occurred in our schools, and we recognize and apologize for the hurt and harm that such incident can cause," Roach said.
Graffiti was also homophobic, police say
Police are investigating reports of graffiti at Newmarket High School and Huron Heights Secondary School, Const. Laura Nicolle, spokesperson for York Regional Police, said in an email on Wednesday.
"In all cases the graffiti was quickly removed. Officers are investigating these incidents and are working closely with the schools," she said.
According to Nicolle, police received a report of anti-Black graffiti carved into a stall in the boy's washroom at Newmarket High School on March 4, and two carvings of antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ graffiti on the front of lockers at the same school on March 7.
At Huron Heights Secondary School, officers were called after hateful graffiti was found in the boys' washroom on Tuesday. "The graffiti included a number of drawings, profanities and male genitalia, as well as some possibly anti-Black and anti-Semitic graffiti that has been partially scribbled over," Nicolle said.
Human rights group 'saddened' by news
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) a non-profit human rights organization committed to countering racism and antisemitism, said in a news release on Wednesday that news of the graffiti is disturbing.
The organization says the third school is Glen Cedar Public School in Newmarket, which runs from junior kindergarten to Grade 8, but the name has not been confirmed by the board or police.
"We are saddened to once again hear of more hateful graffiti found at schools, this time in Newmarket," Michael Levitt, the organization's president and CEO, said in the release.
"These growing incidences of hate create a toxic environment for all students and staff and must be addressed with the highest priority by education leaders."
Levitt said the organization expects the board to identify and hold accountable the people responsible for "these hateful acts" and to provide additional education on antisemitism and racism to all students. The organization says it has reached out to the schools to offer its education programs.
Bright pink billboards with 'bold slogans' fighting rising antisemitism in Toronto
Antisemitic graffiti was found on the outside of three Toronto schools, Central Technical School, Rosedale Heights School of the Arts and Malvern Collegiate Institute, last week.
Students gave the Hitler salute at three other schools, Pleasant Public School, Valley Park Middle School and Charles H. Best Middle School, in February.
The FSWC said it is working with the Toronto District School Board on ways to address the rise in antisemitism at its schools.