School, city condemn neo-Nazi posters plastered in St. Clair West area park
Principal of nearby school calls posters 'disturbing' as city works to take them down
School and city officials are condemning whoever plastered neo-Nazi posters throughout a park in the St. Clair West area.
The posters, which feature swastikas and phrases like "the Nazi youth are here," were found near a playground on Monday in Wells Hill Park, near St. Clair Avenue West and Bathurst Street — an area where many Jewish families live.
On Tuesday, the principal of one nearby school wrote to parents to warn them.
This is not the kind of community that we are trying to build … we don't want the underlying sentiment to spread in our community.- Local Coun. Joe Mihevc
"Early this morning we became aware about offensive anti-Semitic and racist material appearing in the community and near our school," Hillcrest Community School principal Anthony Levy said in an email.
"This kind of disturbing activity is simply not acceptable."
While many of the posters have been taken down, some were still glued to hydro polls in the area as of Tuesday afternoon.
Toronto police said in an email to CBC Toronto that an investigator has been assigned to the case.
Posters full of neo-Nazi references
Warren Kinsella, a former Liberal strategist, author and lawyer who is currently writing a book about the growth of hate groups among young people, said the posters are concerning, in part because of how detailed they are.
"There's swastikas, lightning bolt, the SS death head symbol," Kinsella said, noting the posters also include more obscure references.
"For example, on one poster there's a reference to 14 — that's the 14 words, which is about securing a future for white children. There is a reference to the number 88, and 88 represents HH in the alphabet, which is 'heil Hitler.' So it is somebody who has knowledge of neo-Nazi imagery and neo-Nazi lingo and needs to be taken seriously as a result."
Kinsella said a concerned parent in the area called him about the posters, but didn't want their name published. He said that shows people are already unnerved by what they're seeing.
Offensive posters pop up across Toronto
This isn't the first time that hateful posters have been found in Toronto's parks.
Late last year, staff at the Morris Winchevsky Centre in Toronto found posters on the property, calling on people to join the local Nazi movement; and a poster for the Canadian chapter of the white supremacist group Generation Identity appeared on Ryerson University's campus.
In November 2016, racist posters also showed up in and around Stan Wadlow Park, near Woodbine and Cosburn avenues.
However, the St. Clair incident is alarming some because of how close the posters are being placed to areas where children play.
Local Coun. Joe Mihevc described the placement of the posters as "utter horror," and said the incident is being taken very seriously.
"This is not the kind of community that we are trying to build locally nor the kind of community that we want to build as Torontonians," he said.
Mihevc says city staff are working to take the posters down.
"We don't want the underlying sentiment to spread in our community."