downsview park swastika

Justin Trudeau appalled after hate symbols found on chairs at Toronto park

The discovery of anti-semitic hate symbols at one Toronto's largest parks is once again prompting officials to speak out against racism and encourage people to report all instances of such crimes.

Photos started circulating on social media late this week of two red Muskoka chairs, both vandalized with spray-painted swastikas, at Downsview Park in North York.

"I'm extremely disheartened and angry to see these symbols of hate and antisemitism in my own neighbourhood, right in the centre of our community," tweeted York Centre MP Ya'ara Saks with a photo of the chairs Thursday afternoon.

"Hate has no place here, or anywhere else in Canada. I've reached out to Downsview Park management for more information. This must stop."

Toronto Police confirmed Friday that officers had attended the site and that an investigation had been launched with engagement from the Hate Crimes Unit.

"The Toronto Police Service believes that one hate crime is one too many," wrote the service in a message posted to Twitter Friday morning. "We need to respond to hate crimes at the earliest opportunity in order to facilitate thorough investigations and prevent further incidents."

Noting that "these crimes are often unreported," police warned that incidents like this one can "lead to increased social discord between opposing groups and possible retaliation."

In April, the Toronto Police Service's Annual Hate Crime Statistical Report revealed that hate crimes had increased by 51 per cent in Toronto over the course of 2020. Of the 201 hate crimes reported, 63 targeted the Jewish community — an increase of 43 per cent over the number reported in 2019.

Police are asking anyone with information about the chairs at Downsview Park, or who has experienced a hate crime at all to come forward and contact them.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also condemned the hateful graffiti last night.

"I am appalled and disgusted by this antisemitic vandalism. To the Jewish community in York Centre and across Canada, know that we will continue to stand with you against this hate," he wrote.

"We will not tolerate it, and we will work with you to end it."

Lead photo by

Ya'ara Saks


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