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Racist graffiti targets religious, ethnic groups in Vaughan

Swastikas, anti-Asian slurs scrawled on Thornhill bus shelter last month among incidents being investigated by police
May 9, 2022
Heidi Riedner

York Regional Police is investigating after incidents of racist graffiti targeting religious and ethnic groups were reported in Vaughan last month.

Officers responded after a resident reported anti-Semitic swastika symbols and the words F _ _ _ Israel printed on a bus shelter on the northeast corner of Steeles Avenue and Hilda Drive in Thornhill on April 6.

It appeared that the suspect(s) used a chalkboard marker to write on the glass, police said.

Thornhill Coun. Alan Shefman commended the force for its “immediate” response and said its experienced hate crimes unit understands and vigorously responds to such incidents.

Shefman said this form of vandalism is "senseless, hurtful and disturbing" to members of the Jewish community.

"It is an entirely inappropriate action, and it is illegal,” he added.

No arrests have been made to date in connection with the case, which also included anti-Asian racial slurs scrawled on the glass of the bus shelter.

Hateful graffiti was also reported at a mosque just north of the Bathurst St. and Clark Ave. area.

“No group or community institution in our city should ever be targeted in this manner,” Shefman said, adding residents should contact police if they see suspicious behaviour at a religious institution or racist graffiti in the community.

A police spokesperson said all hate motivated crimes are taken seriously and investigated.

"We appreciate the community reporting these incidents right away so the region and police can act quickly to remove the graffiti, and to investigate and prevent them," Const. Amy Boudreau said. "We work closely with our hate crime prevention unit on these incidents."

The City of Vaughan also has an active diversity and inclusion program that works to ensure that the many different ethnic, racial and religious groups in the city feel welcome and are able to participate in all aspects of community life.

Prior to being elected as a Councillor in Vaughan, Shefman worked for many years both in the Jewish community and for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, where he said he dealt with a wide variety of hate crimes.

“One of the lessons that I learnt during that time was that we need to be relentless in our fight against expressions of hatred.”