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Church plans vigil for Winnipeg Jewish community following cafe hate crime

Winnipeg Police sit outside BerMax Caffe.
Winnipeg Police sit outside BerMax Caffe. Michael Draven/ Global News

A Winnipeg church is showing support for the city’s Jewish community after a local cafe was the target of a violent anti-Semitic incident on Thursday.

Winnipeg’s Westworth United Church says they’re holding a vigil after an employee a the BerMax Caffé and Bistro was assaulted and the business was targeted with hateful graffiti.

The church says they stand in solidarity with anyone who was targeted by the violence.

“There is no room in our city of Winnipeg for hate, terror or violence directed against Jews or any other group of people,” Rev. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd said in a statement.

“If we can stand together across various identities and hold hands, we can have a counter-voice that will allow compassion and healing to have the final word,” she told 680 CJOB.

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Shepherd said she’s concerned about a rise in anti-Semitic violence, not just locally, but nationally and globally as well.

“To address it, we need to stand firm against it, but we probably need to do some serious analysis about what’s going on, both from the psychological point of view and the sociological point of view. ”

The gathering begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the church’s Grosvenor Avenue location.

This is the fourth time in five months the cafe has been the target of hate crime and Winnipeg police say they continue to investigate.

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On Thursday, responders found a woman inside the BerMax Caffé who had been assaulted. She was taken to hospital in stable condition, treated and released.

The entire restaurant had been vandalized and the word “Jew” was spray-painted on the windows and in the parking lot.

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“There have been a number of incidents related to this particular business, but prior to this, there was no violence in those instances. I know I looked over those reports and it was unclear if it was looked at as a hate crime,” Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver said.

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The Winnipeg Police Service Major Crimes Unit is investigating this as a hate-related crime in conjunction with a commercial robbery. They’re asking anyone with information to call 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).