Hate-related graffiti discovered on two Guelph buildings

Police are investigating after hate-related graffiti was found on two Guelph buildings.

Both incidents were reported two days apart and involved red spray paint. Police believe the incidents could be related.

On Saturday afternoon, police were called to Riverside Park after someone discovered graffiti on a building under construction. Police said the vandalism was antisemitic in nature and included a swastika. The graffiti was photographed and then removed by city workers.

“Of course, one of these is too many, but to have three in such a short time period certainly is a great concern to the service and the community,” said Scott Tracey, a spokesperson with the Guelph Police Service.

On Monday, officers responded to the Crestwicke Baptiste Church on Speedvale Avenue East. Police said church officials arrived in the morning to find graffiti, once again written in red spray paint, on a rear emergency exit sign.

“We can’t say for certain, but geographically they are quite close together and they both were written in red spray paint in a similar style, so at this point we believe they could be related,” Tracey said.

Police said the graffiti was anti-Black in nature and included a racist epithet. It was photographed and removed.

Reverend RJ Umandap, the lead pastor at Crestwicke Baptiste Church, said the area where the graffiti was found is not commonly used, but the writing could still be seen from the road.

“We’re a diverse congregation that reflects the demographic of Guelph,” Rev. RJ Umandap, the lead pastor at Crestwicke Baptiste Church said. “So maybe it’s just somebody found a wall that was shielded from sight that allows them to express their anger.”

These two incidents follow the discovery of antisemitic stickers found on a synagogue in Guelph a week before.

“As a church we would pray for the culprits and we would want to reach out to them in friendship and compassion because we recognize that they are angry,” Rev. Umandap said.

According to Kween, the executive director of the Guelph Black Heritage Society, many people suffered trauma throughout the pandemic and are now acting in unacceptable ways.

“Then we act in ways that are racist, quite frankly, and discriminatory and hateful and violent. While they might be seen as a micro-aggression and it’s just graffiti, It’s incredibly violent,” Kween said.

Kween believed the Black Lives Matter protests helped many minority groups feel safe enough to express their concerns in the public but said that momentum has slowed.

“Unless we address these issues forefront and take a look at what’s happening, they’re just going to continue to be an outgoing problem and people are going to continue to see it as okay,” Kween said.

Guelph police are asking anyone with information about the incidents to call their hate crime coordinator, Detective Const. Jagdeep Atwal at 519-824-1212, ext. 7436.

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