Teens identified in connection to racist drawings caught on camera
KITCHENER -- Waterloo regional police say two youths have been identified in connection to racist symbols and slurs being drawn on driveways and sidewalks in Kitchener.
The incident happened around 5:30 p.m. Saturday and was caught on security camera.
Jason Hynes initially posted part of the video onto Twitter, but later removed it and said police had been notified and the minors had been identified.
*UPDATE* The minors in earlier vid have been ID'd. The police know & both parents came to apologize. Thanks for sharing and for taking this issue seriously. Education must be the main defence against actions like this. We decided to remove video since the minors have been ID'd.— Jason Hynes (@jhynes) August 30, 2020
The video showed a hateful symbol being drawn on his neighbour’s driveway before more graffiti was found on his own driveway and the sidewalk.
Resident Tony Vohsemer’s camera also caught two youths starting to draw what appeared to be a swastika symbol on his driveway with chalk.
Anti-Semitic language, a second swastika, and the n-word were found on the sidewalk, and a third swastika with more inappropriate language was found on another driveway. This also included the words, ‘I’m racist.’
Vohesemer was in his backyard at the time, but Hynes was about to leave for dinner around 6 p.m. when he saw everything.
“I called Waterloo regional police, spoke to the dispatch, they started looking into it, and said they would follow up,” Hynes said.
Hynes’ posted the video to social media, while his wife posted flyers with the still images on neighbourhood mailboxes.
On Sunday afternoon, the parents of the two youths came forward and offered apologies.
“They’re obviously quite upset and they’re taking actions with the police to set things right,” said Hynes.
Police say their hate crime unit is investigating.
“Generally speaking, anytime there is crime that is also involved to hate motivated crime, it falls within one of the criminal code offences,” said Const. Ashley Dietrich of WRPS.
Hynes and Vohsemer both believe they were not intentionally targeted.
“I think that the chalk that they used was just chalk that was sitting on the side of the road that my kids have been playing with,” said Hynes. “I suspect it was just a crime of opportunity if somebody walked by.
“This doesn’t change the fact that this isn’t acceptable and this has no place in Canadian society and particularly our community here in Kitchener.”
Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic echoes these statements.
“How do we make sure our young people understand the implications of doing something like this?” he said. “It’s not just a joke, this is something very serious.”
In a statement to CTV News, the Anti-Racism Community Collective says incidents like this are no surprise because of how often they happen in the community with little repercussion.
They add that cities can take action on recommendations that have been out forth for years by local Black and Indigenous-led organizations, such as:
- Defunding police and divesting into culturally-informed, anti-racism trained mental health and community supports
- Age-appropriate anti-racism training in all levels of education with BIPOC people and voices front and centre
- Incorporate representation into the decision-making boards of all companies, educators, upper management, and city councils
“Certainly we have some already and there’s more work to be done without question,” said Vrbanovic. “We’re not reflective of that.”
Hynes and Vohsemer both hope the incident leads to more education.
“We need to continue to educate people about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Vohsemer. “You know that all needs to continue to be educated in our school systems.”
The driveway and sidewalks have since been cleaned up.