Update June 7th: Trevor York, a 35-year-old Toronto resident, has been arrested and charged; more here.
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The Hate Crimes Division of the Toronto Police Department (TPS) is looking for the person or group responsible for scrawling an antisemitic image and threat near York University, school officials have confirmed.
The offensive graffiti depicts a Jew with sidelocks and a Star of David inside crosshairs next to a message that says, “Shoot a Jew in the head.”
On Thursday, York University said it “denounces this hateful, antisemitic act” and is working closely with law enforcement.
“The university learned of hateful and antisemitic graffiti that was reported to be found in the ‘The Village’ neighbourhood yesterday. Many students live in this area close to Keele Campus,” the statement said. “The university condemns this antisemitic act and will continue to support the TPS in any way possible. Supports are available to community members, and direct outreach is underway to Jewish student groups.”
“It’s not a surprising thing in this area, but it makes me feel a little bit nervous, a little big sad, a lot angry as well,” York University graduate student Garrett Ryan told CP24, a local news outlet. “It’s frightening that people are trying to incite violence on us.”
A surge of hate crimes in Canada has heightened concern about the safety of the country’s Jewish community. A recent report by the Toronto Police Service found that 257 took place in that city alone, with 56 targeting Jews.
Antisemitic hate crimes in Canada overall have reached record highs for six consecutive years, according to data compiled by B’nai B’rith Canada. Almost eight incidents per day occurred in 2021, a recent audit by the group revealed, including 2,460 episodes of harassment and 75 violent incidents throughout 2021.
Most recently, a Toronto Uber eats driver pulled up to a yeshiva accosting students and saying he would “kill 30 Jews today.” The disturbing scene was witnessed by the school’s cook who was punched in the face after asking the man to leave. The cook then tackled the perpetrator and detained him until the arrival of police, who discovered that he was armed with a knife.
In May, B’nai B’rith Canada urged the Canadian government to issue a report assessing its progress on fulfilling its promise to aggressively fight antisemitism throughout the provinces. The Canadian government subsequently filed a report last year at the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.