After finding a swastika and Nazi eagle drawn on his Vancouver building, one man says he’s noticed a spike in hate over the last year.
Graham Williams says he noticed the detailed swastika and eagle as he left to walk his dog around Hastings and Abbott streets, Sunday.
“This was not a casual job. You see swastikas scrawled on things sometimes; somebody took the time to actually do this well, which is probably one of the most frustrating things,” he explains, adding the graffiti appeared to have been drawn in chalk.
Williams says he snapped a few photos and reported it to a nearby police officer, whose response was “immediate.”
“I’ve seen a lot of graffiti in the area recently, and there’s been some anti-nazi graffiti, which, usually, not a problem. Swastikas, though, if they’re popping up, I think it’s going to be a problem for the neighborhood,” Williams adds.
He says there’s been a “real rise” in racist rhetoric in the area recently.
“We’re hearing things on the street, things that you would not have heard a year ago. People are using language and words that I find absolutely abhorrent,” Williams says.
Williams notes increasing violence, like stabbings, pepper sprayings, arsons, and shootings, has everyone on edge. As the number of residents on the Downtown Eastside grows, he says things are only getting worse.
Williams says it could be possible that someone participating in far-right, anti-mask rallies over the weekend may be responsible for the chalk swastika and eagle, but feels it was more than likely a resident.
On Saturday, a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered, unmasked, shoulder-to-shoulder in downtown Vancouver for the “B.C. Freedom Mega Rally” to protest “censorship, lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine mandates, quarantines, travel bans, social distancing, contact tracing, and government orders.”
According to an open letter from the Vancouver District Labour Council, the “Freedom Rally” and another “Freedom Convoy” were events that were using the guise of COVID-19 to “coalesce formerly disparate fringe groups.”
Now, Williams is calling on the mayor and council to take immediate action.
“This is not the Vancouver we know. This is not the Vancouver that I think anyone wants to live in. It’s no longer safe and they need to do something,” Williams says.