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Police investigating antisemitic graffiti found at three Toronto schools

A logo at the Toronto Police Services headquarters, in Toronto, on Friday, August 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov A logo at the Toronto Police Services headquarters, in Toronto, on Friday, August 9, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Toronto police are investigating antisemitic graffiti discovered at three schools Wednesday morning and the possibility that the three incidents are linked.

Police said antisemitic language was found written on the outside of school buildings at Central Technical High School in the Bathurst and Bloor area and Rosedale Heights School of the Arts near Bloor and Bayview.

The third incident was reported at Malvern Collegiate Institute, where police said antisemitic language was discovered on a container found on the grounds.

"These are being treated as hate-motivated and our Hate Crime Unit is fully engaged," police said. "Due to the similarities in each incident, investigators are exploring whether they are linked."

Interim Toronto Police Chief James Ramer tweeted about the incidents, saying that hate crimes are a top priority for his service and police are committed to fighting hate in the city.

In a statement, the Toronto District School Board said the incidents are believed to have occurred overnight.

"Today, nearly identical antisemitic graffiti was reported outside of Central Technical School, Malvern Collegiate Institute and Rosedale Heights School of the Arts," TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said.

"We are working with Toronto Police to provide any assistance that we can as they continue to investigate these incidents which are harmful and completely unacceptable on or off school property."

Police are already looking into a number of antisemitic incidents at several TDSB schools. Last week, two students allegedly raised their hands for a prolonged period in front of a Jewish teacher who saw it as a Nazi salute.

On Feb. 17, a French teacher at Valley Park Middle School who is the child of Holocaust survivors reported that she was surrounded by students who allegedly did the Nazi salute.

On Feb. 8, the TDSB said a group of students at Charles H. Best Middle School made a swastika out of a construction paper without realizing that it was a hate symbol. It was the second antisemitic indicent at the school. A week earlier, a Jewish student was allegedly surrounded by peers who then performed the Nazi salute.

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, the policy director of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC), said the three incidents are horrifying.

"This is just miles beyond anything that we've ever seen before. And the incidents seem to be getting more frequent and more serious," she said.

"So today, with three incidents in one day, it is absolutely clear that there is a crisis at TDSB. And we are looking to the board to take some very, very committed action."

Kirzner-Roberts said education is an important tool in combatting antisemitism and hatred.

"What we want to see from the board is a major new commitment to teaching our young people about the Holocaust and about antisemitism," she said.

"And also teaching teachers and administrators about how to handle antisemitic incidents, how to mediate and how to counteract much of the damage that is being done by hate groups on social media." Top Stories

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