Nova Scotia

Police seek man in round brim hat over anti-Semitic stickers in Halifax

Members of the Jewish community in Halifax are condemning stickers they've seen around the city that imply Jews are somehow responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stickers placed on several Halifax streets being treated as a hate crime, police say

A Star of David is shown on the door of a Halifax synagogue Saturday. Members of Halifax's Jewish community are speaking out in response to stickers they view as anti-Semitic that have been appearing around the city in recent weeks. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Halifax police have asked the public to help identify a man they want to talk to about what police are now calling a hate crime. 

Last month, someone pasted anti-Jewish sticks around the city. The stickers, printed in black and white on mailing labels, say: "The Bug That Backfired COVID-19."

Also shown are the Jewish Magen David, or Star of David, and a symbol resembling that of the Freemasons. Police learned about them Sept. 9 and found them posted on South Park Street, Spring Garden Road and Summer Street. 

Police want to talk to a white man in his 60s, standing about five feet six inches, with a slim build and no facial hair. He was seen wearing a round brim hat, a brown or tan jacket or trench coat, and possibly carrying an old-fashioned suitcase or briefcase. 

Police said he's been seen on Spring Garden Road, Quinpool Road and near the Mount Olivet Cemetery. 

"Investigators believe this man may have information that could assist with the investigation into this incident," Const. John MacLeod said Thursday. 

People can call police at 902-490-5016 with tips, or if they see someone placing the stickers, at 902-490-5020. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or online

Fake conspiracy theories

Members of Halifax's Jewish community have been speaking out about the stickers.

"At first glance, this sort of appears strange and people might be unsure," said Naomi Rosenfeld, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council. "But, unfortunately, we know that this messaging harkens back to old anti-Semitic tropes."

One of those is the well-known Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Rosenfeld said that is a fabricated anti-Semitic text that tells the tale of Jews who conspire to rule the world.

"The implication is that the Jewish community was the cause of COVID-19, which obviously is completely false and very anti-Semitic," she said, adding it also implicates the Freemasons in the same way.

This line of anti-Semitic thinking is not representative of Halifax and Nova Scotia at large, Rosenfeld said, and the Jewish community has always felt "welcome and at home" in her four years at the helm of the AJC.

But she said the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone "on edge."

Naomi Rosenfeld, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish Council, said the stickers use the Jewish community as a 'scapegoat' for the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC)

"Unfortunately, it's human nature to try and find a scapegoat … and a very small, very radical group has decided that the Jewish community is that scapegoat," she said.

'We can't just let it go'

The stickers have been found around the city's downtown core and on some university campuses, Rosenfeld said.

Marnina Goneck, a member of Independent Jewish Voices in Halifax, has seen the stickers in the downtown. She found them "hateful" and "very disturbing."

One of the stickers shown on a bench in downtown Halifax. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Goneck and Rosenfeld both encourage anyone who comes across a sticker to take a picture and report it to either of their organizations as well as Halifax Regional Police.

"We can't keep quiet about something like this," Goneck said. "We have to really make sure we draw attention in a way that condemns these kinds of actions. We can't just let it go."

About the Author

Brooklyn Currie is a reporter and producer with CBC Nova Scotia. Get in touch with her on Twitter @brooklyncbc or by email at brooklyn.currie@cbc.ca

with files from Jon Tattrie

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