Ottawa

Racist graffiti angers Ottawa's black community

Ottawa's black community is reacting with anger and disgust after a family's home was spray-painted with racist graffiti over the weekend.

Police close file, citing lack of evidence

Coun. Rawlson King said he plans to meet with police to talk about the importance of combating racist incidents such as the one that occurred in his ward on the weekend. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Ottawa's black community is reacting with anger and disgust after a family's home was spray-painted with racist graffiti over the weekend.

Late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, someone left the message "N--gers, out!" scrawled in black letters on the garage door of a home on Merganser Street, near the Aviation Parkway and Montreal Road, east of the core.

We really need to combat racism, call it what it is, and say that this is not going to be tolerated.- Coun. Rawlson King

In their initial response to CBC on Tuesday, police told CBC the call for service regarded "mischief to property related to graffiti," and that they had closed the case because there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.

That's despite widespread condemnation from community members and elected officials, including the area's city councillor, Rawlson King, who said he met with the homeowners on Monday.   

Coun. Rawlson King says racism is still an unfortunate reality for many in Ottawa's black community. 0:31

"Somebody who lives in their home, especially when they've lived there for 16 years, should feel safe in their home and in their community, and it shouldn't be tolerated at all," said King, who was elected in a byelection last month and is Ottawa city council's first black member. 

On Twitter, King called the vandalism a "cowardly act of hatred."

This message was spray-painted on the home of a black family. (Supplied)

Disappointed by police response

Rev. Anthony Bailey, who helps educate police recruits about anti-black racism, said he's disappointed by the police response.

"I'm extremely disappointed," Bailey said. "I feel as a racialized person, when you call that mischief you are denying the severity of it."

Bailey was targeted with the same racist slur spray-painted on the front doors of Parkdale United Church during a spate of vandalism in November 2016. 

Rev. Anthony Bailey of Parkdale United Church helps educate police recruits about anti-black hatred. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

'Call it what it is'

"I think that we really need to combat racism, call it what it is, and say that this is not going to be tolerated," King said. "There's been an erosion of trust, and in order to build more trust, it's important that the police service is addressing those issues with vigour."

In a clarification attributed to Supt. Chris Renwick on Tuesday afternoon, the Ottawa Police Service said: "The Merganser St. incident is one of graffiti (hateful content) that was spray-painted on a garage door — with no persons of interests [or] leads ... the file was closed by the responding patrol constable."

A police photographer documented the graffiti, according to the statement.

"Should any leads surface, [the case] will be assigned."

A local business cleaned up the graffiti on Tuesday.