The Jewish owner of a Kensington Market, Toronto business is speaking out after his business was defaced by anti-Semitic graffiti earlier this month, CP24 reports.
"It was extremely upsetting," Jeff Levy, owner of The Kensary cannabis dispensary on Kensington Avenue told CTV News Toronto. "It was a brand new store, we just put a lot of work into it, and we had to immediately clean it up. It was a disgrace."
This is not Levy's first run-in with anti-Semitic incidents either. Last year, he personally received a threatening letter.
"It’s a huge concern now," said Levy. "I don’t want to leave my kids in this environment. It’s extremely escalated and it’s very upsetting for us."
Toronto Police have launched an investigation into the attack, which occurred on May 6. Police state that no charges have been laid, and neighbouring businesses were not targeted.
Surveillance footage on May 6, shows what looks like three people pulling out a can of spray paint just after 10 pm. One individual spray paints phrases across the store before handing it off to another, while a third looks on. The vandalism included phrases that reference the gas chambers used in the Holocaust.
"We got there just before noon, and it was all over our store. The remarks about the gas chambers, the gas chamber morgue, things like that, on our windows," said Levy.
The month of May has seen a drastic increase in anti-Semitic attacks across the country, driven by fighting in Israel between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas.
The Toronto Police Service said last month that the city reported a 51 percent increase in hate crimes of all types in 2020. Jewish groups were the most targeted, amounting to 34 percent of all incidents. Black people were targeted in 23 percent of the incidents, followed by LGBTQ2S+, at 11 percent.
B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights group, reports that figures for May show an alarming increase in attacks this month.
"This is very troubling. This has the Jewish community on edge across the country," said B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn. "In the month of May, which is Jewish heritage month ironically, we have seen more acts of violence nationally than we did for all of 2020."
Toronto City Councillor Michael Layton, who serves the Kensington Market community amongst others, called out the vandalism, saying that "It has no place in our society, in our country, and we need to get past this."