Hate symbols spray-painted on a north London Ont. playground have sparked a police investigation.
The playground is located in a city park on Thistlewood Drive, next to Mother Teresa Catholic School.
Students at the school were among the first to encounter the images. They include dozens of swastikas and at least one racial slur.
“Oh my God, oh my goodness!” was the first reaction of four students who entered the park. As CTV News arrived, the female students, who are black, noticed the N-word painted inside the playground equipment.
“People still have this type of mentality and people still think this way!” expressed Davina Kazadi.
“I don’t really feel that safe anymore, like what if I run into someone drawing that one day,” said Danielle Kabongo.
As forensic investigators took pictures of the scene for an investigation, London Police Chief Steve Williams issued a statement. In part, it reads, “We are disheartened to learn of this reprehensible incident, particularly given the symbolism behind the hateful images and words depicted and the fact it involved children’s playground equipment.”
CTV News London was first contacted by a concerned passerby Tuesday morning regarding the hate symbols, and CTV news noted an officer later canvassing the neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, back at the playground, Lucy Kim kept shaking her head at what she saw Tuesday morning, later telling CTV News she is a recent immigrant.
“It’s horrible. I had heard no racist people here, but I didn’t know this,” Kim said.
A long-time resident in the area added, “It’s very upsetting, why do people do that? I just don’t know.”
The scene leaves student Bernice Kazadi wondering who is responsible. If an adult, she says it would be frightening. If children, she wonders what prompted them to act out.
“If children are doing this, like where did that mentality come from? Parents need to start teaching their kids’ good ways,” she concluded.
The hate symbols and words are numerous and spread throughout the structure. City crews were seen on Monday afternoon at the playground starting clean-up work to remove the hate symbols.
“We would like to thank members of the community who brought this to our attention. The London Police Service condemns all acts of hatred and violence toward any individuals or groups in our community. We will continue to thoroughly investigate all incidents of this nature, and apply charges as appropriate,” Williams added.
At this time, police say there are no suspects and officers are appealing to members of the public to come forward and contact them if they have any information that could assist with the investigation.
The incident comes just days after a multicultural mural in Aylmer, Ont. was defaced.