Authorities are circulating images of a suspect spraying hate-filled graffiti on immigrant-operated businesses.
One week ago, business operators in the southern portion of Pembina Highway arrived at work to find hate-filled graffiti, including swastikas, painted in red on their buildings and windows.
"It really sends out a very negative message to all of our newly-arrived Canadians. And that is what all these business owners are, they are all Canadians," Irish immigrant and Stone Angel Brewery's co-owner Paul Clerkin said at the time.
In total, at least 10 buildings were hit including a church.
- a bank in the 1300 block of Pembina Highway
- a church in the 1700 block of Pembina Highway
- a gift shop in the 1800 block of Pembina Highway
- a cafe in the 1800 block of Pembina Highway
- a supermarket in the 1800 block of Pembina Highway
- a medical centre in the 2000 block of Pembina Highway
- a law firm in the 2100 block of Pembina Highway
- a drugstore in the 2200 block of Pembina Highway
- a medical centre in the 2300 block of Pembina Highway
- a hair salon in the 2800 block of Pembina Highway
The Winnipeg Police Service cannot definitely say they are linked.
Clerkin helped cleaned up the mess in the strip mall, believing it to be a group of teenagers "without a brain cell between them" who sprayed the graffiti. Belle Jarniewski, Executive Director of Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, and Clerkin both called for youth education.
"We need to particularly focus on the youth so that going forward they will understand that antisemitism, Islamaphobia, anti-Black racism, that all forms of hate are completely unacceptable," Jarniewski said last week.
Now, police are releasing images of the suspect, saying they believe it is a man in his 20s or 30s.
"Someone out there knows who this is," Constable Rob Carver says in a Thursday press conference.
The Winnipeg Police Service says in a statement "the suspect appears to be in his 20s to 30s. He was wearing lime green shorts, a plaid shirt, a red and white cap, with a distinct black gym bag slung across his body."
In the video, the man is seen calmly spraying the window of a shop and walking away. Carver says "we would like to find out who that is."
The swastikas tagged on a large number of businesses are the motivator behind the investigation moving to hate crime.
"The real concerning case is that the graffiti was swastikas," Carver. "I think everyone is attuned to how hate fulled and how dangerous graffiti of this type can be."
Hate Crimes have not increased in the past year, according to the constable, noting that Winnipeg appears to have been spared from a Canda-wide increase. The constable is not sure if this event qualifies as a hate crime.
"We need to look at it as someone trying to send a hate message," Carver says.
They say Major Crimes' Hate Crime investigators are asking for help identifying the suspect.
Those with information are being asked to call 204-986-6219, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 204-786-TIPS (8477).