'We got their back': Outremont residents draw hearts to counter swastikas left in snow

After someone drew swastikas on parked cars on Hutchison Street, some community members took it upon themselves to spread positive messages in the neighbourhood.

Someone drew swastikas on cars on Hutchison St., prompting community members to spread positive messages

Hearts were drawn in snow on cars in Outremont last night following the discovery of swastikas drawn on cars Sunday. (Twitter/Sarah Dorner)

The swastikas started showing up Sunday night, scrawled in the snow on cars parked on Hutchinson Street, on the border of Montreal's Mile End and Outremont neighbourhoods.

They were on windows and on windshields, drawn on cars in an area many Hasidic Jews call home, a week after a gunman opened fire on a mosque and killed six people practising their faith.

It didn't take long for some in the neighbourhood to counter that "message of hate," as one community leader called it, with messages of love.

Feeling unwanted

A member of the Hasidic community, Mayer Feig, said he got a call from a community member about the swastikas Monday. More had appeared overnight and in the morning, although passersby had erased some.
Swastikas were drawn on at least four cars in Outremont overnight Sunday. (Facebook/Mayer Feig)

Feig said he wasn't shocked by the news — this isn't the first time he's seen this kind of thing.

Synagogues, kosher bakeries and even election campaign posters have been vandalized with the Nazi party emblem in the past.

"They do it for one reason: just to show you that there's still people out there that hate you, and to make you feel unwanted in this place," he said.

Feig said seeing the symbols in their community makes people feel uncomfortable. He contacted police, who he commended for being quick to respond. 

Montreal police say the file has been transferred to their hate crimes section.

A heartening response

Outremont resident Sarah Dorner heard about the incident and said it upset her.

"It was very disappointing because this is our community. It's where we're raising our kids," she said.

Yesterday, she noticed people had started drawing hearts on cars and decided to draw some of her own.

Dorner said it's important "for our friends who are targeted by messages of hate, that we remind them that we care about them, and that we're there. We got their back."

Feig said the gesture was nice to see.

"I think it's beautiful. We need a lot more Sarahs."

with files from Shaun Malley, CBC Montreal's Daybreak