Doll with swastika on head found in mailbox, says Black business owner in London, Ont.

Brown says he arrived at work to find this doll in his mailbox.
Brown says he arrived at work to find this doll in his mailbox. via Adrian Brown/Facebook

Adrian Brown says he recently checked his London, Ont., business’ mailbox to find a doll with caution tape around its neck appearing to be fashioned as a noose and a swastika drawn on its forehead.

The business owner, who describes himself as half-Jamaican and half-British, says it’s the latest in a string of incidents targeting London Landscape Inc. on Clarke Road over the last month or so.

“We always had people coming in, taking scrap metal, that kind of stuff, so [we’re] a little bit used to it, but the series of events lately have been a little different.”
Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: Anti-Black racism is here: London, Ont., councillor says we can no longer allow excuses for inaction

Brown says they recently added a garden centre, and the first weekend it was opened, someone popped through a hole they had left and was passing plants through the opening but left the premises after opening a door and triggering an alarm.

On the Monday after when he arrived at work, he says he noticed a bike — with a knife tucked into it — and all his flowers out in the parking lot.

“We left the bike out because we wanted to give them back their thing in hopes that they’d leave us alone,” he explained.

“The following week [in late May], on a Monday morning, [I] came to my work, 5:30, 6 in the morning, and noticed something in the mailbox.”
Story continues below advertisement

He said a doll was found in the mailbox. It had caution tape around its neck fashioned to look like a noose.

“There was some writing on its face with numbers, I don’t really know what they would represent, but on its forehead, it had a swastika,” he said.

“I am half-Jamaican and half-British, so I am a visible minority. I don’t know if somebody knew that and thought they’d drop off a nice little gift for me but it was a little disheartening to come to work and see that, of course.”

The most recent incident came in early June, shortly after the Black Lives Matter protest in London, when Brown says he arrived at work to find all of his flowers had been uprooted.

“I don’t know if there was a direct correlation between the doll being dropped off and all of our display plants being ripped out but it’s just — you get mixed feelings. That Monday morning I woke up so proud seeing all the support and seeing nothing but love on a Saturday around Victoria Park, and then you see [the plants uprooted].”
Story continues below advertisement

Brown says he’s contacted police and that officers “have been nothing but supportive” but he says that there’s little that can be done.

“I get it — they can’t post an officer here to keep an eye on a Black guy’s business for the entire night just to see if some sort of hate crime happens, and I get that.”

Brown says they have a camera system but “there’s no real identifying who’s doing it until you catch them.”

READ MORE: Councillors ask City of London, police, schools and health unit to address systemic racism

Brown’s partner, Katie Shepherd, told Global News that she emailed police about the doll and sent a photo but did not file an official report at the time. She says they later filed an online report “following the uprooting of our newly planted garden.”

Initially, police only confirmed to Global News that officers were called out to the business back in September 2019 in regards to a report of a break and enter. In an email to Global News after publication, on Thurs., June 18, police confirmed that “a report was made yesterday to police” and there “is no suspect information at this time.”

There have been several social media posts from Brown and others about the instances involving London Landscape, and Brown says the community reaction has been heartwarming.

Story continues below advertisement

“People were sharing it, people were throwing up ‘angry’ faces on different social media platforms, just a lot of people were angry and there wasn’t one negative response saying ‘you deserve that’ or anything. Everybody has just been supportive,” he said.

“People are genuinely trying to fight to make things a little bit better for people like myself and everybody on the whole.”

Governments must offer up ‘real resources’ in fight against systemic racism
Governments must offer up ‘real resources’ in fight against systemic racism

While examples of anti-Black racism have been highlighted in recent weeks since protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States, there have been several high-profile incidents of racism in London over the past several years.

Just last October, a Western University student called out a professor for using the N-word during a lecture. She later became the target of racist emails.

Story continues below advertisement

In January 2018, London’s then-police chief issued an apology on behalf of the force after photos from 2006 of one its constables painted in blackface, wearing a tribal costume, were posted on Instagram. Const. Katrina Aarts wrote a letter of apology read out by the chief.

In 2017, council unanimously passed a motion calling on Londoners to stand against all forms of racism, bigotry, and hatred ahead of a rally organized by an anti-Islamic group and supported by at least one white supremacist organization.

The city garnered widespread attention in 2011 when a banana was thrown on the ice while a Black player was taking part in a shootout during an NHL pre-season game. A 26-year-old London man was charged in the case.

Living In Colour: The history of anti-Black racism in Canada
Living In Colour: The history of anti-Black racism in Canada

Racial profiling and racial discrimination against Black people is a systemic problem in Canada, according to numerous reports and experts.

Story continues below advertisement

Black Canadians account for 3.5 per cent of the country’s total population, according to the latest government statistics, but are over-represented in federal prisons by more than 300 per cent, as found by the John Howard Society.

A Black person is nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting by Toronto police, a 2018 report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found, and Black Canadians are more likely to experience inappropriate or unjustified searches during encounters and unnecessary charges or arrests. They’re also more likely to be held overnight by police than white people.

Black Canadians experience disparities in health outcomes compared to the population at large, and studies show they often face barriers and discrimination within health-care systems. Black people report higher rates of diabetes and hypertension compared to white people, which researchers say may stem from experiences of racism in everyday life.

Indigenous Peoples, who represent about five per cent of the population in Canada, also experience poorer health outcomes and face discrimination within health-care systems and by police. According to Statistics Canada, they are grossly over-represented in the prison system — Indigenous men made up 28 per cent of male admissions to custody in 2017-18 — and, according to the John Howard Society, are nearly eight times more likely to be murdered. According to the Canadian Department of Justice, Indigenous women and girls are more than three times more likely to experience sexual assault and violence and are between six and 12 times more likely to be killed, depending on the province or territory.

Story continues below advertisement