Calgary police believe the owners of an SUV found covered in hateful and anti-Muslim graffiti in Rundle Thursday were targeted based on their ethnicity.
Early Thursday morning, a grey Infiniti SUV parked in the 2200 block of 48 St. N.W. was sprayed with racist phrases mentioning Islam and people from the Middle East, police said in a release Friday.
The vehicle was also scratched with a key and the windows were smashed.
Senior Const. Craig Collins, hate crimes coordinator with the Calgary Police Service, said it is believed the owners of the SUV — a Syrian family who live at the house where the vehicle was parked — were the targets of the graffiti and investigators are treating the incident as a hate crime.
“This isn’t a victimless crime, that’s not how the police service sees it,” Collins said. “It’s a heinous crime which not only targets the individual, but sends a really impactful message into the community and it sends a message of fear.”
Collins said graffiti targeting certain people based on ethnicity or religion has been occurring more regularly in Calgary.
“We are seeing an increase and some of that is likely due to recent high-profile media incidents,” Collins said. “I think there’s a misconception that it’s ‘just graffiti’ and we need to put the message out … it’s not a mindless act, it’s a personal attack on somebody.”
Police said there have been six investigations into hateful graffiti launched this year, including a recent case in Ranchlands Park.