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Brandon police release video of man painting racist graffiti on 2 schools

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2019-06-19 Dana Hatherly
a store inside of a building: The graffiti painted on the two schools was cleaned up over the weekend. Police say the same person spray-painted racist and anti-Semitic words on the exteriors of both schools. © Riley Laychuk/CBC The graffiti painted on the two schools was cleaned up over the weekend. Police say the same person spray-painted racist and anti-Semitic words on the exteriors of both schools.

Brandon police are calling on the public to help identify a suspect caught on camera on the weekend tagging two public schools with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti — and hope finding the person responsible might provide insight into the motivation for the vandalism.

Police say the graffiti spray-painted on the exterior of Linden Lanes School and Vincent Massey High School in the early hours of Saturday morning included anti-Semitic comments and logos, and messages that were hateful and vulgar, as well as racial slurs — including the N-word.

Video surveillance released Wednesday on social media by police shows a man spray painting the outside of one of the schools.

Brandon police Const. Myran Hamm explained why the police issued the tweet.

"It appears to me that this is a very angry individual, and it would be interesting to know the motivation behind the anger and get a better understand of what this person is thinking, because at this time we can't really speak to what the motivation is or was behind the act."

Hamm, the acting public information officer for the day, said a few names have been come forward from the public. With more than one name, investigators will have to corroborate the evidence and narrow it down to look for a match with the individual in the surveillance footage.

The hateful attack on two schools appears to be an isolated incident, Hamm said, with no new reports of similar instances received by officers in the past 24 hours.

a store inside of a building © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

School maintenance crews cleaned off the buildings before students returned for classes Monday.

While police continue to look for whoever vandalized the buildings, the school community is trying to grapple with what happened.

It would be interesting to know the motivation behind the anger and get a better understand of what this person is thinking.

- Const. Myran Hamm

Linda Ross, board chair for the Brandon School Division, spoke about how teachers and students are dealing with the hateful vandalism, which she said was "enough to certainly be of considerable concern."

"We need to keep bringing the message home, not only to our students, but to the community at large, that acceptance is important, and inclusion, and being kind to one another … and also teaching of social behaviours are also really important so that we're educating people who will be good citizens and good humans overall."

On Thursday, Brandon School Division superintendent Marc Casavant and Brandon police Chief Wayne Balcaen will make themselves available in the two schools for staff and students who want to talk about the incident.

They also want to hear from any students who feel they may have been targeted by the hateful words and images.

Ross said the school board had not received any direct reactions from staff or students so far.

Ross said the school division has rarely dealt with these kind of instances, and never seen an incident of this magnitude. Hate crimes across the country are on the rise, though, according to Statistics Canada data. In 2017, the highest number of such crimes was reported since comparable data became available in 2009.

Although Canada's Criminal Code does not clearly define hate crimes, judges can impose more severe sentences in cases where a crime was motivated by "bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor."

Criminal law covers public incitement and wilful promotion of hatred, which, according to the legal definition, includes communicating hateful messages by a visible means in a public place.

There is no information as to why these particular schools were targeted by the anti-Semitic graffiti and racist rhetoric.

CBC News asked whether the most recent anti-Semitic, racist and other hateful messages are part of a trend in the city. Brandon police were not able to comment until their local statistician reports back to them. 

Based on police records at hand, Const. Hamm said the last hate crime-related incident reported to city police occurred in 2016.

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