While the shock from last month’s wave of anti-Semitic, racist and Islamophobic graffiti remains, the actual hate messages didn’t stay on the religious buildings long.
That’s thanks to the Ottawa franchise of Goodbye Graffiti, which removed anti-Semitic messages from Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Kehillat Beth Israel, the Jewish Community Campus, and a private home used as a prayer and study centre by the Glebe Minyan; as well as racist messages from Parkdale United Church and Islamophobic messages from the Ottawa Muslim Association.
“We’ve been in Ottawa since 2006,” said Michael West, the Ottawa franchise owner of Goodbye Graffiti. “While business has grown, there has never been so much publicity before, or multiple places hit at the same time.”
West said there are typically five or six incidents of hate graffiti in Ottawa per year. So, six incidents in one week in the city are well beyond the norm.
“It has always been our policy to remove any hate graffiti for free for anyone within our community,” said West. “It’s our way to give back to the community that has supported us. It’s something we do right across the country … It’s unfortunate that the racial and hate graffiti is out there, and we want to do our part to get this stuff removed as soon as possible.”
Goodbye Graffiti’s daily business is removing graffiti – most often tagging signatures – from federal, provincial and city buildings, and from private sector buildings, he said.
“We have patrols in place in which we drive around and check areas that have been historically hit, and send a report to the appropriate people. We also do an Ever-Clean program weekly with our regular clients and give them a service summary monthly.”
The company’s graffiti-removal technicians receive intensive training before obtaining certification to operate the Goodbye Graffiti “War Wagons.”
“I had hired [Goodbye Graffiti] to do some work for me when I was working at the airport,” said West, who joined the company about five years ago. “I saw how professional they were and was very impressed. I thought this would be an interesting business to get into. There was an opportunity for me when a previous owner was moving on to another business, so I bought in.”
“We are very appreciative of the generosity of Goodbye Graffiti to remove the hateful messages from our building quickly and at no cost,” said Rabbi Michael Goldstein, executive director of Congregation Machzikei Hadas. “Their kindness and community leadership won’t soon be forgotten.”
For information about graffiti removal in Ottawa and surrounding areas, contact Goodbye Graffiti’s Customer Care Centre at 1-877-684-4747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.