Calgary cops are investigating a potential hate crime after venomous messages aimed at Syrian newcomers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were sprayed on the walls of a southeast school.
Officers were called just before 9:30 a.m. Saturday to Wilma Hansen junior high school in the community of Queensland after someone in the neighbourhood reported the vandalism to police.
“We are still doing neighbourhood inquiries,” said Sgt. Kelly Todd, adding the incident could potentially be investigated as a hate crime.
On the walls of the school, in black spray-paint, someone wrote messages including “Syrians are animals” and “real Canadians hate Syrians” as well as “burn all mosques.”
Some of the messages also targeted Trudeau including “Syrians go home and take Trudeau” and “While Syrians feast in hotels, Canadians starve on the street, kill the traitor Trudeau.”
The windows of the school were also smashed.
The incident comes a week after the same school was vandalized with similar anti-Syrian and anti-Trudeau sayings.
Trudeau responded to last week’s incident, sending a tweet on Monday that read: “Canadians have shown the best of our country in welcoming refugees. That spirit won’t be diminished by fear (and) hate.”
A spokesman with the Prime Minister’s Office reiterated that message when reached Saturday.
In December, the walls of the Tuscany CTrain station were also painted with anti-Syrian graffiti and some vehicles in the parking lot were vandalized. Two men were charged in that case.
Saima Jamal, co-founder of the Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary, was horrified to learn of Saturday’s incident, calling it “full-fledged Islamophobia” and “full-fledged refugee hate.”
She said she has no idea why this school in particular was hit twice by similar graffiti, but implored investigators to locate the person or persons responsible as soon as possible.
“I’m afraid they (the perpetrators) might now take the graffiti to the next level,” she said.
“What if they see a Syrian family on the street? What if they do something?”
But Jamal said she’s buoyed by how welcoming most Calgarians have been to the newcomers, adding she’s often flooded with calls from people asking how they can help and what donation items are needed.
“That’s the kind of love and support that we’re seeing from Canadians,” she said.
“The graffiti of one (person) is not going to change that.”