By Mike Anderson
At least two portable picnic tables and a concrete floor at the Pefferlaw Ice Pad were vandalized with lewd and racist graffiti last week.
York Regional Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
The graffiti included Nazi swastikas and crude depictions of penises.
According to a Town spokesperson, park staff have been able to remove the graffiti on the surface of the picnic tables by sanding them down.
The Town estimates that the cleanup will cost approximately $200 plus staff time, as there is no need to hire an outside contractor.
YRP officers have taken photographs and will canvas the neighbourhood for witnesses.
However, the Ice Pad is not equipped with a security camera, so there is no footage to review.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the creation of graffiti is considered vandalism. And vandals can be charged with “mischief under or over $5,000,” which, as an indictable offence, could result in substantial fines and a possible prison sentence of up to two years.
However, if their primary motivation involved bias, prejudice or hate, they could face a sentence of up to 10 years.
The YRP website defines a hate crime as “a criminal offence committed against a person or property, that is perched to be motivated or is motivated, in whole or in part by the suspect’s hate, bias or prejudice based on real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.”
This March, a similar incident occurred in Constable Garret Styles Park in Keswick.
However, the tagging occurred over a larger area and included playground equipment, costing the Town several thousand dollars to remove.
YRP reported that two boys eventually confessed. The youngest was given a warning, while the older boy was referred to a community program run under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which provides alternative solutions for youth that have committed a criminal offence.
While the damage was not as severe in this instance, the intent was still the same, prompting a response from Mayor Margaret Quirk.
“There is no place for racist comments, symbols or any kind of hate activity in Georgina,” said Mayor Quirk in a statement emailed to the Post.
“Unfortunately, like many other communities, Georgina is not immune to these types of activities. But the derogatory actions of a few do not represent our community.”
“If you see something, say something. Speak with your children and your neighbours about the impacts of such activities. We all have a role in combatting racism and must use our voices when we see it.”
“If you know anything about this incident or any other, please contact York Regional Police,” she added.
Lee Dale, a candidate for Ward 5 Councillor, contacted YRP and the Town after a resident reported the graffiti to him last Sunday.
While Dale says it may have been a case of bored teens doodling on a picnic table, he says it doesn’t diminish the impact and severity of their actions.
“Part of the issue is that we’re dismissing things like this,” he said.
“When do you decide a hate symbol has no value because it is on a table instead of a wall?”
“Anytime these things happen, you need to call them out, and you need to deal with them right away.”
“Hate breeds hate. It starts with some symbols on a table and escalates into something actionable in the community.”
“It’s extremely disappointing and unacceptable that these blatantly racist incidents keep happening in our community,” said Kendra Mullings, former Chair of the Georgina Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee.
“I think the appropriate response is to call it what it is, which is a hate crime, and have the police investigate it as such and hold those responsible accountable.”
“As a community, we need to call it out, gather to speak about it, condemn this horrible act of racism and let the few know that Georgina will not stand for less than anti racist attitudes.”
“I feel everyone who holds positions of power and or influence in town should be doing more than making statements,” she added.
Anyone with information should contact YRP’s Hate Crime Unit, 905-764-1300, Ext. 6028. There is also a Hate Crime Hotline, 1-877-354-HATE (1-877-354-4283), or email
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