Toronto police have launched an investigation after residents in the city’s east-end found “ultra right wing” posters that urged white people “tired of political correctness” and “questioning when immigration will stop” to join an online movement some suspect arose out of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential election win.
The signs have a bold headline that reads “Hey, WHITE PERSON” and ask, “wondering why only white countries have to become ‘multicultural’?” and “figuring out that diversity only means less white people’?”
They also called for those with similar thinking to join the “alt-right” political movement on several Canadian and American websites.
“I found the posters very disturbing, residents in my ward sent it this morning. I think the sentiments expressed in the poster are totally unacceptable in this city and it’s very worrisome,” Coun. Janet Davis told Global News Monday, after the signs turned up in Ward 31 Beaches-East York.
“I’m quite worried that the Donald Trump election has legitimized this kind of ultra right wing viewpoint and encouraged these kinds of expressions of hate.”
Ian Daffern, a parent of two young children in the area, said he saw the posters while taking his son to school and immediately began tearing the signs down.
“I was shocked, it was disgusting. So I started to tear it down. And he started pulling me along to make us go but I told him, ‘I don’t like bullies,’ so I took it down,” he said, adding he had heard from neighbours there were other posters found in the area.
“I hope I never see them, I hope they don’t come back around here. There’s no way to know where this person would have come from, who would have put that up, whether they’re even from this neighbourhood. But I know that’s not really a Toronto thing so I just hope we don’t see it again.”
Toronto Police Const. Victor Kwong said they have launched an investigation after speaking to several complainants about the posters and were taking samples of them for analysis.
“I think it’s 100 per cent coming from the U.S. Election,” Daffern said.
“People feel emboldened by these negative things that came out of the Trump win.”
Kara Black, a caregiver who took the photo of the sign in East York’s Stan Wadlow Park that made the rounds on social media, said she walks by the area everyday and was shocked by the message.
“It’s just sad. It feels a little bit disappointing that someone would put those up,” she said.
“You don’t want such young kids exposed to hate like that so I think they should definitely look into it and hopefully they’ll find whoever did it.”
Davis said she was surprised to find the hateful messages in her ward, but added they aren’t representative of any part of the city.
“Toronto and Canadians generally don’t take these kind of extreme views. This is a city that is tolerant and inclusive and these views just aren’t acceptable,” she said.
“It’s hard to know what the motivation is behind whoever did this. If it’s to get attention they’ve certainly done that and sometimes bringing attention to these kinds of things encourages more of it, which I hope isn’t the case.”
Davis said city staff are removing the signs and have launched an investigation to try to determine who is responsible for the posters.
Photos of the signs circulated on social media with many calling for them to be torn down if spotted, while others added they had seen them in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood as well.
Matthew Cutler, a spokesman for Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation, said posters aren’t permitted in parks except in specific situations and staff were made aware of the signs in the park by Davis and immediately removed them.