WATCH: Corey Fleischer owns his own power washing company and for the past 5 years, he’s made it his mission to get rid of as many hate crime messages as he can. And he does so on his own time. Sarah Volstad caught up with him at the Lachapelle Bridge in Laval.
MONTREAL – In the six years that he’s been removing graffiti, Corey Fleischer has seen his share of discriminatory messages. But today, he encountered what he calls a “major attack.”
“A lot of times you might have some ignorant people that put down swastikas,” said Fleischer, “They might not understand exactly what’s going on. And then you come across what we just came across today and you start seeing signs that I’ve really never seen before. And once I started doing the research, it becomes very troublesome.”
Fleischer got a call Tuesday morning reporting roughly a dozen anti-Semitic symbols on the Lachapelle Bridge between Montreal and Laval. More than just simple scribbles, they were hateful messages aimed at the Jewish community. One of them was the marking “1488.”
“The 14 goes for the 14 words for the white supremacy, to keep the children white or pure or whatever nonsense it is, and the 88 happens to be the eighth letter of the alphabet, so ‘HH’ which means ‘Heil Hitler’,” explained Fleischer.
Over the past six months, Fleischer has removed over 100 swastikas in the Montreal area. He says what he saw Tuesday was more sophisticated than usual.
“This particular person, with the signs that he’s putting down, knows exactly what he’s doing,” said Fleischer.
“He knows to put the swastika on an angle, he knows the parties. It’s not the first removal I’ve done of his and it’s very concerning.”
Fleischer deals with all sorts of hate speech, including racist and homophobic messages, but claims that 85 per cent of what he removes is anti-Semitic.
“It’s obviously someone trying to send a message to offend, to bother, to make people feel unwelcome, but frankly it doesn’t work,” said Eta Yudin, Associate Director for Quebec Public Affairs and Jewish Community Relations at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
“And as you can see there are people who take the initiative to clean it or report it because it’s not a message that is shared by Quebecers and it’s not a message that is welcome in Quebec.”
Fleischer makes it his mandate to tackle these offensive graffiti stains on his own time, and on his own dime.
“I put it before everything and that’s how strongly I feel about what I’m doing,” said Fleischer.
“My favorite part about doing what I do is that I get to stop the cycle of hate. So the next person that comes by the spot or the wall where the swastika or the hate crime was isn’t going to become a victim.”
Anyone who comes across hateful graffiti in the Montreal area is invited to contact Corey Fleischer at 514 983 8787 or through his company’s website at www.provincialpw.com