Calgary police investigating racist graffiti targeting southwest Sikh temple
Racist language spray painted on the roadway leading to a Sikh gurdwara in Calgary's southwest is being condemned on social media and by the Calgary Police Service.
Images on Twitter show the hateful words on the street that target the temple at the Sikh Society of Calgary Gurdwara in West Springs.
Police said hateful phrases were spray painted on the roads outside the temple, with arrows pointing toward the building, sometime between 9 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 24 and 7 a.m. the next day.
The gurdwara is located at 739 81st Street S.W., and the two painted phrases were found along 81st Street and Old Banff Coach Road S.W.
The president says the incident makes many in the community uncomfortable.
“We are all humans, we feel bad about somebody throwing hate at you,” said Balihar Singh Dhillon.
“You can call it the black sheep. Those black sheep never become a good citizen for any country, they are always like a fish, they will always make the water dirty.”
Calgary police said vandalism was reported Monday morning and the diversity unit is leading the investigation.
"It is unacceptable that anyone in our community feels okay making such derogatory statements about their neighbours, even more so when they went out of their way to make sure that the people they targeted would see it," Sgt. Gareth Joels said in a news release.
"No one should have to read messages like this on their way to worship or anywhere else in our city.
"Graffiti that targets a particular racial or religious community has far-reaching effects in the community as it makes everyone who sees it question their sense of safety and belonging in our city."
Many of the tweets are condemning the act of hatred and standing against intolerance.
The World Sikh Organization also tweeted out that this is the second time this particular house of worship has been targeted (WARNING: Tweet includes unblurred images of this week's graffiti) by hateful attacks as swastikas were painted on the building in 2016.
"It is disappointing to once again see racist vandalism at the Sikh Society of Calgary gurdwara," said Tejinder Singh Sidhu, WSO president, in a statement.
"It’s ironic that the incident comes the same day Alberta saw two Sikhs, Jyoti Gondek and Amarjeet Sohi, become the mayors of its two largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton, respectively.
But Dhillon feels there is no connection to the swearing in of two Punjabi mayors.
“Some people can maybe link it to that Jyoti Gondek or the Edmonton mayor Amarjeet Singh Sohi, they are both Punjabi, their backgrounds are,” said Dhillon.
“But I believe it’s not that one, but suggest it is a very isolated incident."
While this incident is concerning, we are even more concerned by a rising number of hate-motivated crimes targeting Sikhs across Canada.
"We encourage community members to remain vigilant and report any such incidents to local authorities as well as to the WSO,” said Sidhu.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek was asked by reporters about the incident on Tuesday.
“I am the child of Sikh parents, I know what it was like for my dad to be profiled because he wore a turban,” she said.
“And to see that kind of thing still happening all these years later, is disappointing.”
Anyone with information regarding who is responsibility for the racially-motivated vandalism is asked to call the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.