Human rights group calls on Cobourg police to investigate Nazi flag incident as hate crime

A human rights group is calling on Cobourg Police to upgrade its investigation into a Nazi flag that was placed on a west-end property. Right now, it's a mischief investigation, but the group says it should be looked into as a hate crime. Mark Giunta reports.

Cobourg police are investigating after a flag emblazoned with a swastika was put up outside a home in the town’s west end last Friday night.

Police say the homeowners didn’t know anything about it.

The flag, which was zip-tied over a Canadian flag, was removed by police.

READ MORE: Cobourg police investigating after flag with hate symbol put up at west-end home

The investigation has now caught the attention of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), a human rights group that counters racism and anti-Semitism.

“We’re no longer surprised by this sort of thing,” said Avi Benlolo, FSWC president and CEO. “We’re reacting to it and informing the community at large and working with police to try and stop it.”

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FSWC is calling on Cobourg police to upgrade its investigation from mischief to a hate crime.

WATCH (Sept. 4, 2019): Satanic cross found erected at Lake Ontario beach near Grafton

Satanic cross found erected at Lake Ontario beach near Grafton
Satanic cross found erected at Lake Ontario beach near Grafton

Benlolo adds it would also help with statistics to track hateful incidents in Canada.

“They are promoting and are motivated by hate. They are trying to victimize and terrorize the community around them. They are making a statement of hate,” said Benlolo.

“When you interfere with someone’s lawful enjoyment of their property — that’s mischief,” said Cobourg police Staff Sgt. Brent Allison. “In order to be a hate crime, it needs to be directed at a group. We know it’s a hate symbol and it has been for 80 years.”

READ MORE: Anti-Semitic graffiti found near Vaughan Mills mall

Allison says if the investigation does reveal a group was targeted, it will then be upgraded to a hate crime.

Police say the homeowners aren’t Jewish.

They’re asking for the public’s help and anyone with surveillance or dash-cam footage to come forward.

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