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Parkland RCMP investigate possible hate crime after severed pig’s head left on school’s Pride crosswalk

Click to play video: 'Hate crime probe after pig head left on school’s Pride crosswalk in Parkland County'
Hate crime probe after pig head left on school’s Pride crosswalk in Parkland County
RCMP are investigating a possible hate crime after a severed pig's head was left on the Pride crosswalk in front of Graminia School, a rural K-9 school in Parkland County near Devon. Morgan Black reports from the scene – Oct 19, 2022

Parkland RCMP say they are investigating a possible hate crime after a severed pig’s head was left on a Pride crosswalk at a local school over the weekend.

RCMP said officers received a report of the pig’s head at the crosswalk at Graminia School, a K-9 school in Parkland County, at around 10 a.m. Sunday.

It’s believed the pig was a domesticated animal, police said, adding its head was severed with a bladed instrument.

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The animal’s head was placed in the centre of the crosswalk and RCMP said it appears to have been “intentional and designed to disturb students, staff and parents.”

Investigators are treating this as a possible hate crime targeted at the school, which has a gay-straight alliance, RCMP said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

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“An unsophisticated person might think this was a prank. An objective viewer would see it as highly intolerant and provocative,” said Staff Sgt. Ian Gillan of Parkland RCMP.

Parkland RCMP are investigating after a severed pig’s head was left in the centre of a Pride crosswalk at Graminia School Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. Global News

In a statement, Parkland School Division said it is expected that all members of the school community demonstrate and ensure that a sense of belonging exists in all places. The division said it is cooperating with the RCMP on their investigation.

“We were shocked and saddened after being informed of what appears to be a despicable act and direct display of aggression towards the LGBTQ2S+ community,” Supt. Shauna Boyce said in a statement. “Any attack towards a minority, and especially towards children, is to be condemned and we hope whomever is responsible for this is exposed and brought to justice.

“As an act like this is traumatic in nature, necessary support is in place for staff and students at the school who may feel targeted by this discovery.”

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“At Parkland School Division, we are committed to keeping all students feeling safe and welcome,” PSD board chair Lorraine Stewart said. “These actions are never okay, especially when you are dealing with the ripple effects this may have on staff and students.”

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“This is one of the most violent and disturbing hate incidents I’ve seen target the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Alberta,” said Kristopher Wells, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair for the public understanding of sexual and gender minority youth at MacEwan University.

He’s concerned about an escalation in recent hate-motivated actions.

“Perhaps what’s most disturbing about this is the level of violence and the actions. This is just incredibly disturbing and damaging for our young people to witness,” Wells said.

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He believes it’s clearly a message meant to intimidate and scare the school community.

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“I think the rest of our community needs to stand in solidarity with the school and denounce these types of violent hate incidents,” Wells said.

“We need to rally around the students and tell them they’re loved and they are supported, there are adults that care about them, value them and want to fully include them in the school and larger community.

“We can’t emphasize enough the importance of our community leaders, our politicians, denouncing these acts of hate,” he added.

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RCMP are asking for the public’s help in their investigation.

Police are looking to speak with anyone who saw suspicious activity in the area between Saturday night and Sunday morning, anyone with information regarding recently missing or mutilated pigs, or any butcher or meat packer who recently sold or had a pig’s head stolen.

“The RCMP encourages all victims and witnesses to report any hate-motivated crime or incident to their local police of jurisdiction,” Parkland RCMP said in their news release.

“Reporting hate-motivated incidents, no matter how minor they may seem, can help police better target crime prevention efforts in the communities. It can also help identify trends and prevent a possible escalation towards violence.”

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Parkland RCMP can be reached at 825-220-2000. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.

— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News

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