The 17-year-old male suspect arrested early Saturday morning after a week-long spree of anti-Semitic, racist and Islamophobic graffiti in Ottawa has been charged with 20 offences including six counts of mischief targeting religious buildings; six counts of uttering threats; six counts of breach of youth probation; and two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon.
Jewish buildings targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti include two synagogues – Kehillat Beth Israel and Congregation Machzikei Hadas; a private home used as a prayer and study centre by the Glebe Minyan, a Jewish Renewal group; and the Soloway Jewish Community Centre.
The suspect was arrested near the Soloway Jewish Community Centre following the graffiti incident here (the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin office is in the SJCC building).
Other targets were the Parkdale United Church, where the minister and many of the congregants are African Canadian, which was painted with racist graffiti; and the Ottawa Muslim Association, which was painted with Islamophobic graffiti.
The suspect – who will turn 18 in December – cannot be named because he is still a minor. He is scheduled to appear in court today in Ottawa.
At the time of his arrest, the suspect was on probation for assault, robbery and bail violations.
“We wish to thank the Ottawa Police Services for their exemplary work which led to the apprehending of this individual,” said Andrea Freedman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, in a statement following the arrest. ”The police made this investigation a top priority and it was their dedication to increasing patrols at religious institutions that led directly to this arrest. The safety and security of our community is always our top priority and we will continue to support the police in any way possible.
“We also wish to thank the greater Ottawa community who have stood by us and other faith communities who were similarly targeted, throughout a troubling week. It is reassuring to know we have such close friends and allies. They have joined us in standing strong against these acts of hatred and we are grateful.
“These attacks were directed not only against the Jewish community, but against all Canadians who share our core values of respect, tolerance and kindness. We will not allow ourselves to be threatened nor intimidated by such acts of cowardice. As a community, we will remain vigilant and continue to report anything suspicious to security officials. We will continue to fight anti-Semitism and racism in all forms,” said Freedman.
“We are incredibly grateful for all of the support we have received from our Ottawa community. This week has been a reminder that we are strongest as a society when we are all working together in shared purpose, taking to heart that there is more that unites us than divides us,” said Rabbi Eytan Kenter of Kehillat Beth Israel in a statement from the congregation after the arrest. “It is my hope and prayer that we continue this collaboration not only in times of distress and challenge, but throughout the year, celebrating together in times of joy as well.”