Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Swastikas and ‘White Power’ Slogans Spray Painted in Vancouver

Multiple trees in a South Vancouver park have been defaced with racist graffiti, including swastikas and the words ‘white power,’ and the Vancouver Park Board is “heartbroken and enraged.”

According to the board, the vandalism in Riverview Park was discovered and reported Saturday.

“Spray-painted swastikas, understood as the most notorious symbol of hatred, antisemitism and white supremacy, along with the words ‘white power’ were found on at least eight trees in the multi-racial neighbourhood of Marpole,” reads a statement issued Sunday.

According to the City of Vancouver, census data shows, 67 per cent of people who live in Marpole are members of a “visible minority group,” 54 per cent are immigrants, and 58 per cent speak a first language other than English. The neighbouring area of Oakridge is described as “hub for the city’s Jewish community.” The Musqueam First Nation is adjacent to South Vancouver.

Crews were sent to remove the graffiti Sunday.

“We extend our regrets to the residents and visitors of Riverview Park, including families and children accessing the nearby playground, who were exposed to these messages, and we acknowledge the park crews who are in the process of safely removing the hurtful graffiti. We also acknowledge this as an act of disrespect to the natural world on the Musqueam territory,” the board writes.

Councilwoman Sarah Kirby-Yung says the defacing of these trees continues a troubling trend in Vancouver where hate-motivated incidents are on the rise.

“It’s hard to find the words. It just it makes me so angry. It’s so sad for our Jewish community, and it’s not an isolated incident,” she says.

In 2019, she brought a motion to council urging action on antisemitism that pointed to data showing an increase in reported hate crimes targeting the Jewish community nation-wide. That motion also noted 142 hate crimes were investigated by the Vancouver Police Department that year.

Data for 2020 shows that number nearly doubled — rising to 280 in 2020.