Toronto police are investigating after graffiti, including the image of a swastika and anti-Black slurs, was discovered this morning spray-painted on the historic Leuty Lifeguard Station at Kew Beach.
Ward 32 Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon described the act as “despicable, vile, and horrible.”
McMahon said she reported the graffiti, which included crude drawings and graphic slurs and imagery, to the city’s parks department this morning after hearing about the incident from the community. The police were then notified, she said.
Police were on the scene earlier this morning, and this afternoon Toronto Police Services tweeted that the graffiti is being investigated as “hate speech” and that “our hate crime unit [is] supporting divisional investigation.” The Leuty Lifeguard Station falls within 55 Division.
Leuty Lifeguard Station
-Graffiti on lifeguard station
-Graffiti being investigated as Hate Speech
-Our Hate Crime unit supporting divisional investigation#GO275956
— Toronto Police OPS (@TPSOperations) February 13, 2018
McMahon said the vandalism is “not something that we would tolerate. We’re not tolerating that.”
“Fifty one per cent of Torontonians were born outside of the country,” she noted. “Our motto is ‘Diversity is our Strength.’ We will continue to be proud of that and support and live that mantra, and we will not accept this kind of action,” she added.
McMahon suggested installing surveillance cameras in the Beach to curb vandalism is not the answer. “People who want to do this kind of thing, they’ll find a way,” she explained.
She said people have been offering to clean up the graffiti, which a parks employee was already painting over this morning. “We definitely have seen an outpouring of support,” said McMahon.
“It’s clean now, it’s back to its original state-ish,” said McMahon, adding paint doesn’t adhere as well to surfaces in cold weather.
In a statement forwarded to Beach Metro, the East Enders Against Racism (EEAR), a local community group, called for immediate action in response to the crime.
“EEAR encourages all residents to call out hateful acts and dismantle oppression in our public spaces, schools and our own homes,” the statement read. “We particularly extend our support to our Black and Jewish community members in light of this incident.”
Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith said “the hate graffiti on the Leuty Lifeguard Station is disgusting and has no place here.”
The MP is co-hosting an anti-racism town hall with Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts on Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church at 2029 Gerrard St E.