Shalom Life | September 20, 2014

BC School Defaced by Swastikas

RCMP hate crime unit investigating vandalism incident at Burnaby high school

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: June 29th, 2012 in News » World

BC School Defaced by Swastikas

The RCMP’s hate crime unit is investigating a June 14 incident in which swastikas were spray-painted on the windows and pavement of a high school in Burnaby, British Columbia, according to The Province.

The incident was referred to Burnaby RCMP after school officials arrived to Byrne Creek Secondary on the morning of June 15 and found the Nazi symbols spray-painted on the school’s walls.

The graffiti spray was removed that same day, which cost the Burnaby School District (BSD) $1,800, according to RCMP estimates. Throughout the past year, the school district has spent over $31,000 cleaning up graffiti, The Province reported.

“These incidents not only impact the community and the students at Byrne Creek secondary on an emotional level, but also have a significant financial burden on both the City of Burnaby and Burnaby School District 41,” said Burnaby RCMP in a press release. “As such, the Burnaby RCMP and E Division Major Crime have committed a number of resources to this investigation as it is considered to be a high priority.”

BSD Chair Larry Hayes said this incident likely took place in the evening, after the school day had concluded.

“It is the hateful nature of the graffiti,” said Hayes of what makes this incident stand out. “There has been nothing to this extent. These things are criminal and cost the district money.”

He noted that Byrne Creek is a highly-praised school that is a province leader in its ethnic diversity.

“What makes this stand out is Byrne Creek is one of the most racially diverse schools in the province,” he said.

Students at the school refused to point fingers at anyone internally, believing that someone from the outside must be responsible.

“These guys weren’t from this school,” said one student named Saeed. “It is immaturity really. They are just troublemakers.”

Another student said that dignifying the incident by giving it any attention “only makes things worse” and that “it was just kids being stupid.”

Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt ofSchara Tzedeck, Vancouver's largest and oldest orthodox synagogue, told News1130 that this type of incident cannot be tolerated in today’s day and age.

“This is the kind of thing that just can't be tolerated in the 21st century. There is too much history behind that symbol for anybody to tolerate this kind of racism,” he said. “This isn't something new for us here in Canada, unfortunately. These kinds of hate are certainly learned. The swastika is not a symbol that was invented yesterday. There is lots of ignorance.”

In the past year, a number of BC schools have been vandalized by suspected neo-Nazi extremists. In April, the RCMP was called in to investigate after racist graffiti was sprayed on the outside walls of Hillcrest middle school in Coquitlam. The graffiti included derogatory comments regarding black and Jewish people, a swastika and several crudely drawn images of a sexual nature.

In 2011, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated in Victoria with swastikas and other anti-Semitic messages were drawn on tombstones. Swastikas were also painted on the walls of several schools in Vancouver during 2011.

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