Police are investigating overnight vandalism that left multiple businesses along Pembina Highway with hateful graffiti and racist symbols spray painted on their sidewalks, windows and doors.
Maryam Nadmeh, co-owner of Tehran Cafe, rushed into work after staff found swastikas painted on the restaurant’s windows and on the cement in front of their entrance Wednesday morning.
“This is not funny — it’s already hard for businesses — and this is just something (else) on top of everything,” Nadmeh told Global News as she arrived to start cleaning the graffiti off her Iranian restaurant.
“I really want to know who did it and why they did it.”
The graffiti was spread on the front windows of neighbouring businesses in the strip mall at 1875 Pembina Hwy. as well, but they were far from the only ones hit.
A Global News cameraperson found red spray-painted graffiti on multiple locations along Pembina Highway, from Confusion Corner all the way to the University of Manitoba.
It appeared those targeted with swastikas in red paint were mostly businesses and organizations that have an ethnic, cultural or religious name.
Another particularly hard-hit business was Nadmeh’s neighbour, Stone Angel Brewing Co. which had graffiti, including swastikas, sprayed on windows all around the brewery.
Stone Angel’s co-owner Paul Clerkin said he thinks the vandalism was racially targeted, because of the number of ethnically owned businesses that were specifically hit.
“The city is supposed to be a community,” he said.
“By doing stuff like this you sign yourself up for showing yourself as not a member of this community.”
Winnipeg police have said they’re investigating.
In an interview with 680 CJOB later in the day Nadmeh said she was initially very scared to find the hateful messaging on her business.
“Because it’s not only me, I have 10 staff working for me here … but as the day has gone by everyone is feeling a little more calm,” she said, adding it’s the first time the business has dealt with hate.
“This is just ignorant people who think that, you know, because we are different, they hate.”
Nadmeh said she expects whoever is responsible for the vandalism was likely caught on security cameras.
In the meantime, she says she’s been overwhelmed by support from the community.
“You have no idea how many phone calls and how many visits I’ve got today,” she said.
“Whoever hears about the incident, they came and showed us their support … I can say that we have the best customers here, they’re so caring.”
— with files from Anya Nazeravich and Rudi Pawlychyn