Metro Weekly

Someone sprayed a swastika on Toronto’s rainbow crosswalk

Toronto Police's LGBTQ liaison unit called the act a "despicable hate crime"

Photo: Toronto Police Service

Toronto Police are investigating after a swastika was sprayed on the city’s rainbow crosswalk.

Toronto Police Service’s LGBTQ liaison unit posted an appeal on Twitter after the swastika was discovered on a crosswalk in Church and Wellesley — an LGBTQ-oriented area of the city — on August 2.

Calling the defacing of the crosswalk a “despicable Hate Crime,” police said that two suspects had deliberately concealed their identity before proceeding to spray the swastika.

According to local reports on Twitter, the swastika had been removed by the morning of August 4.

In a follow-up tweet, police showcased new posters that are being distributed in the Church-Wellesley area to combat hate crimes against LGBTQ residents.

“As part of our continuing efforts to fight Hate Crime in the #ChurchWellesley village you will see these posters going up tonight in the area,” police tweeted. “HATE IS A CRIME, BEING HUMAN ISN’T. LGBTQ HATE CRIME. STOP IT! REPORT IT!”

The move to further combat hate crimes comes amid heightened tensions between police and the city’s LGBTQ population.

Earlier this year, Toronto Police announced that they had agreed to withdraw from participating in the Toronto Pride parade amid ongoing debate over police presence.

Distrust in police escalated this year after Toronto Police acknowledged that a series of murders in the gay community had been met with an apathetic response.

LGBTQ residents had previously reported the possibility of a serial killer targeting gay men in the city, to which Toronto Police responded by saying that there was “no evidence” to support the theory. However, after continually denying the existence of a serial killer, in January police charged police charged Bruce McArthur with six counts of first-degree murder.

In a statement, Pride Toronto said that allowing officers to march in the parade would not fix the problems that police had failed to address.

“This has severely shaken our community’s already often tenuous trust in the city’s law enforcement. We feel more vulnerable than ever,” they said, adding, “marching won’t contribute towards solving these issues; they are beyond the reach of symbolic gestures.”

Mark Saunders, police chief for the City of Toronto, said he wanted the parade application withdrawal to help mend the bond between the force and the LGBTQ residents it swore to protect.

“My hope is that this move will be received as a concrete example of the fact that I am listening closely to the community’s concerns,” he said. “Hopefully this moves us forward in an important way.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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