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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.”