Charges laid after rainbow crosswalk vandalized in Aurora, Ont.
A permanent rainbow crosswalk is seen at Yonge Street and Wellington Road in Aurora after being unveiled Thursday August 20, 2020. (Pflag York Region /Facebook)
TORONTO -- A 44-year-old man has been charged in connection with the vandalism of a rainbow crosswalk in Aurora last month.
On Aug. 20, the town of Aurora unveiled the crosswalk in the area of Yonge Street and Wellington Road in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Town staff called York Regional Police the next day after they noticed skid marks over the crosswalk.
Following an investigation, police learned that just before midnight on Aug. 20, a pick-up truck drove over the crosswalk and left black tire marks.
The driver then allegedly returned a short time later and left more skid marks.
Investigators said they believe the marks were etched intentionally over the crosswalk and investigated the incident as an act of hate.
After photos of the suspect vehicle were released, police said they received tips from the public, and the suspect and vehicle were identified as a result. On Wednesday, Newmarket resident Phillip Simmons was arrested and charged with two counts of mischief.
“York Regional Police does not tolerate hate crime in any form. Those who victimize individuals based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or mental or physical disability will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” police said in a news release.
Hours after the first incident, police said the crosswalk was vandalized for the second time. A 57-year-old man, who police said was spotted by officers on patrol using black spray paint to damage the rainbow, was arrested at the scene and was charged with mischief.
- with files from Josh Freeman and Codi Wilson