Police investigate hate-motivated fire and graffiti at North York deli

The Toronto Police Service has launched an investigation into a suspected hate-motivated arson and graffiti incident targeting a local business.

On Jan. 3, around 6:00 a.m., Toronto Police Service reported that officers responded to a fire inside a store located in the vicinity of Steeles Avenue and Petrolia Road. Toronto Fire successfully extinguished the fire, and officers discovered graffiti on the exterior of the building.

The business has been identified as International Delicatessen Foods.

The Toronto Police Hate Crime Unit has taken charge of the investigation as it is a suspected hate-motivated crime. The Ministry of the Attorney General will be consulted as part of the process, and assistance will be provided by the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.

“This isn’t lawful protest protected by Constitutional rights. It’s criminal. It’s violent, targeted and organized. We’ll use all resources available to investigate, arrest and prosecute those who are responsible for this,” said Staff Supt Pauline Gray, Detective Operations.

Mayor Olivia Chow responded to the incident with a statement released on the social media channel X.

“Incidents like this leave people feeling shaken. They diminish our sense of safety and belonging. All residents of Toronto deserve to be safe and feel safe,” she said, in part. “As Mayor, let me be clear: acts of antisemitism, hate and violence are not welcome here.”

City councillor James Pasternak responded to the incident on X saying he was shocked and appalled by the “attack.”

“This is a hate motivated attack on a Jewish owned business. Its links to the anti Israel mob are confirmed with graffiti on the wall. This escalation of lawlessness in Toronto must come to an end,” he wrote, in part. 

According to TPS, in cases where criminal offences, such as assault or mischief, are alleged to be motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate, the officer-in-charge may consult with the Crown. If charges lead to a conviction, the Judge will consider hate as an aggravating factor during sentencing. In addition, hate propaganda offences such as wilful promotion of hatred and advocating genocide, require the Attorney General’s consent to lay charges and are typically addressed at a later stage in the legal process.

Authorities are urging the public to come forward with any information or provide dash cam and video footage related to the incident. Tips can be reported to the Toronto Police at 416-808-3100, Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or online at www.222tips.com. The investigation is ongoing, and updates will be issued accordingly.

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