More than a dozen Winnipeg, Canada business owners situated along a major highway discovered on Wednesday morning that their stores were covered with swastikas and other graffiti.
The red spray painted hate was found by the Pembina Highway shopkeepers as they arrived for work, reported CBC News.
Swastikas were painted on the windows of the Stone Angel Brewing Company and the Tehran Cafe next door, Paul Clerkin, the owner of the brewing company, told the CBC. He also found swastikas on the sidewalk in front of the two businesses.
"Odds are these are just teenagers going through bloody growing pains and think they're being hard and big and provocative. And in reality, they're just small-minded little bigots,” said Clerkin who spent several hours removing the red graffiti from the windows of his business and the next door cafe.
He added that the vandalism took place some time after he left the brewery at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. It was discovered Wednesday at 7 a.m.
Several stores in the nine-unit plaza were reportedly vandalized but only three where defaced with swastikas in red spray paint.
“This is not funny — it’s already hard for businesses — and this is just something (else) on top of everything,” Maryam Nadmeh, owner of the Tehran Cafe, told Global News. She also spend the morning cleaning the swastikas off her restaurant’s windows and the front sidewalk.
“I really want to know who did it and why they did it,” she said.
North of the plaza, the side of a bubble tea store was also defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti featuring a swastika.
The same red spray paint was used to spread graffiti, including swastikas, on a number of businesses along a two-mile stretch of the Pembina Highway, a main road that connects Winnipeg’s suburbs to its downtown.
The vandalism took place on the same day as the Canadian government held a national summit on anti-Semitism.
The nature of the timing of the vandalism was not lost on Jewish Federation of Winnipeg spokesperson Adam Levy, who told the CBC that the organization was "shocked and disappointed" by the swastikas that he called a “universal symbol of hatred” that “has no place in Canadian society.”
"History has taught us that those who target Jews don't stop there, as exemplified by this incident in which several ethnic and religious establishments were targeted with swastikas," Levy said.
A nearby building that contained an immigration consulting firm was similarly hit with hate graffiti, reported the CBC. Beside that building, the Archdiocese of Winnipeg Catholic Centre was also defaced with hateful messages, and a hot pot and a Thai restaurant discovered they had been victimized.
Global News reported that the businesses defaced with swastikas were likely targeted because they had an ethnic or religious name.
Winnipeg police have opened an investigation.
Canada has seen a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in the last few years.
B'nai Brith Canada's Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents 2020 found that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada have increased 18 percent since 2019.