Advertisement

After taxi was spray-painted with swastikas, northern Alberta community rallied to help owner

The owner of Athabasca Go Cab says he is heartened by how the northern Alberta community has come together to help him after his taxi cab -- the only one in his fleet -- was recently had swastikas spray-painted on it.
The owner of Athabasca Go Cab says he is heartened by how the northern Alberta community has come together to help him after his taxi cab -- the only one in his fleet -- was recently had swastikas spray-painted on it. Supplied by Ryan Hamzeh

The owner of Athabasca Go Cab says he is heartened by how the northern Alberta community has come together to help him after his cab — the only one in his fleet — recently had swastikas spray-painted on it.

“I can’t even explain how much support me and my family are getting,” Ryan Hamzeh said.

“This is definitely an act of cowardice and a low-life thing [to do],” he added. “I think it’s an individual that has nothing to do with the community.
“I hope it’s just some bored guy and [that there is] no specific message in there.”

READ MORE: Edmonton swastika graffiti to be condemned at rally, Notley says such hateful acts ‘not to be tolerated’

RCMP confirmed to Global News that the vandalism, which included swastikas and other symbols, was reported to them shortly before 5 a.m. on Tuesday, was being investigated. However, police said the case as it stands does not fit the criteria necessary to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

Story continues below advertisement

Hamzeh said he believes the vandal spray-painted the taxi sometime between 11 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. He said it was outside the home of its driver at the time, although Hamzeh said he also sometimes drives the cab.

RCMP told Global News that the “demographic” that the cab driver belongs to is partly what indicated to them this was not a hate crime. Hamzeh said the driver whose home the car was parked outside of on the night of the incident is Indigenous.

“I really hope not,” Hamzeh told Global News when asked if he thought the spray-paint may have been an act of hate.

READ MORE: Vicious vandalism emphasizes how ‘divisive’ Alberta election is getting

“Me and my family are loved here… we don’t hate anyone… [and] I don’t think anybody hates us,” he said.

“It has nothing to do with the community,” Hamzeh said of the incident, adding he has lived in Athabasca for about a decade.

“We’ve been here for a while and we’ve never had something like this happen.”

Hamzeh said while he hopes to find out who is behind the act so he knows the reason his cab was targeted, for now he is grateful to have supportive neighbours who have stood up for his family.

“I just want to thank the community of Athabasca… seriously, you’ll never get [this kind of support]… in any other community,” he said.
Story continues below advertisement

According to Hamzeh, two local businesses — Home Hardware and Athabasca Glass — have offered to help him clean off the spray-paint.

“The community here… we got a lot of support… the messages we got were unbelievable.”