Two more cases of hate graffiti discovered in Ottawa
Two more places of worship in Ottawa were splattered with hate crime overnight. Ottawa’s police chief now believes this week's 5 incidents are all related. The latest targets, adding to the three already under police investigation, include a mosque on Northwestern Avenue and the Parkdale United Church, sprayed with racist messages aimed directly at those worshipping there.
At Friday prayers over the noon hour, the graffiti was gone but the hurt had already set in.
“Now Mr. Trump woke up a lot of people with his rhetoric and stuff like that,” said one man attending prayers, “Racism exists everywhere.”
That racism was in the form of red paint, splattering the walls of the Ottawa Muslim Association on Northwestern Avenue.
“It's awful and it's scary,” said one man walking by the mosque.
Hateful messages were sprayed on the doors of the Parkdale United Church, outraging passersby, like one man, who stopped on his bike to snap a photo.
“That doesn’t represent my city.”
It outraged the Reverend at Parkdale United, too. It is the second time his church has been targeted this year.
“Some of the vitriol that has come from south of border has emboldened people,” Reverend Anthony Bailey said, “to think, “I've harbored these thoughts for some time. I feel permitted to do this, act it out and be bold around this,” and that is what we are seeing as the shift.”
Ottawa's Police Chief visited both the mosque and the church today to offer his support. This is the fifth incident, after two synagogues and a Jewish prayer centre were hit earlier this week.
“There's no question that the frequency and the condensed time frame these have been taking place, there's a link there,” Chief Charles Bordeleau said, after meeting with Imam Samy Metwally, “Whether it's a copycat or one or a group of individuals responsible for all of those, that's what the investigation will determine.”
“To have this despicable language on mosques, synagogues and churches,” added Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, “this is not the Ottawa we all know.”
It is that sentiment that is mobilizing people. Within minutes, the same company that erased the graffiti from the synagogue yesterday was at the church to help.
“We have come to help the community out,” said Shane McKay with Goodbye Graffiti, “that's what we do.”
And community residents were offering up their services at the mosque.
“We just wanted to offer any support or help we can,” said Dennis van Staalduinen, with the Champlain Community Park Association, “We want them to feel at home here.”
In the House of Commons, there were words of solidarity from Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, “Today the people of Ottawa stand united against the twin evils of racism and anti-semitism.”
The graphic words spray-painted on these places of worship may have been divisive but their impact has backfired, says Imam Samy Metwally, with the Ottawa Muslim Association, “Something is coming out of this which is our unity and our acceptance of one another.”