Racist graffiti hits west-end Ottawa business
Graffiti on west end business
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Monday, April 7, 2014 5:24PM EDT
It was hateful, racist graffiti scrawled on a west end business, targeting new immigrants and people of color. The owners of the business, Dirienzo and Saikaley Automotive, painted over it as quickly as they could but not before calling police.
Co-owner Al Saikaley is used to grit and dirt, after years as a mechanic. But Saikaley says the graffiti he discovered last week on his property was downright disgusting.
“Very racist,” says Saikaley, I couldn’t believe someone would write something like that.”
The offensive message was spray-painted on his storage shed in big bold letters and it wasn't the first time.
“We called the police first,” says Saikaley, “they took pictures and after that, they sent identification unit down. Then we painted it right away. Hopefully they don't paint it again.”
The graphic graffiti was directly across from a non-profit community high rise, home to dozens of immigrants who are clients with the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO). OCISO says it too, has had racist slurs spray-painted on its administrative building next door.
Leslie Emory is the executive director of OCISO, "The staff who works here finds it disturbing because they're from all over the world,” says Emory, “and they could see it as targeted to them as well. It brings into question people's personal safety and you don't want that in your workplace or in your community.”
The Ottawa Police did investigate the graffiti as a crime of mischief but with no leads and no suspects, the file was closed.
But it's still very much on the minds of the people in the area.
"We're trying to build a community and all trying to pitch in, “says Marie-Therese Libot, as she walks by the area, “and it's sad that people aren't open-minded.”
“It's shocking that in Ottawa and in 2014 we're still dealing with racist remarks,” says her friend Alia Al-Shalchi, “especially in Westboro where it's a hip area, which is diverse and multi-cultural
The Ottawa Police say this could be considered a hate crime because it's targeting a visible minority. But without a witness or a suspect, it's nearly impossible to investigate.