Old Ottawa East residents clean up after vandalism spree hits neighbourhood
Warning: Story contains disturbing, offensive images
Ottawa police have charged three people after cars and homes were vandalized and racist graffiti was sprayed on children's play structures in an Old Ottawa East neighbourhood overnight.
Police said the graffiti was found within the area bound by Lees Avenue, Chestnut Street, Springhurst Avenue and Main Street around 1 a.m. Sunday.
Several vehicles were covered in spray paint and damaged after being jumped on repeatedly, police said. Several play structures were covered in racial slurs and obscene language, including the N-word.
Park benches, homes and sign posts were also sprayed. One bench was vandalized with a swastika.
'All sorts of banging noises'
Noah Firestone's property wasn't vandalized, but he said he heard a commotion across the street from his home and called 911.
"At 12:30 I woke up to hearing all sorts of banging noises outside," Firestone said.
"So I went up to my bedroom window and looked out and saw three guys on bikes smash the window of a car and rummage through it and then take off quickly [down] Brunswick [Street] on their bikes," he said.
On Sunday, police charged two men, aged 18 and 19, with one count of mischief to property for over $5,000.
Police also charged a boy under the age of 18 with mischief to property under $5,000 and assault with the intent to resist arrest.
'It's very shocking'
The rear of Sylvie Lemieux's rental home was covered in red spray paint, as was the home of her next-door neighbour Meiz Majdoub.
"It's very shocking because this park is used all the time by lots of kids. People are very friendly to each other so, yeah, it's shocking," Lemieux said.
While some residents said it was concerning to see all the destruction, others said their spirits were lifted by how the neighbourhood responded.
"You can see how the community cares because right away we had neighbours cleaning it out first thing in the morning," Majdoub said. "This neighbourhood won't stand for it and they'll do what they have to do to immediately rectify it."
Standing outside his home with his young son Sunday morning, Majdoub brushed off the racist graffiti as "ignorant" and "misplaced."
"Hopefully the people who did it essentially see what this community is about. It's vibrant. It's multiracial. It's Canada, right?" he said.
Darlène Lozis is an activist for minority rights and is president of 3R International, an organization that works with youth in the justice system.
She said the vandalism spree offers an opportunity to re-educate youth about accepting other people's cultures.
"For me, it's sad because I'm a mother. It's really sad. And we are living in 2018 and we still have that?" she said.
"Our society needs to do something. It's not a game when people are doing this. I can see my son, I also see my daughter, being scared because of that — so we need to do something and do it really quickly."