The Ottawa police hate crime unit is looking for a man suspected of carving an anti-Semitic symbol into the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Police said in a news release the suspect rode a bike on Oct. 16 to the downtown National War Memorial, the site of the annual national Remembrance Day ceremony, scratched hate graffiti onto the tomb and rode away.
“We don’t know yet what motivated this person,” said spokesperson Const. Amy Gagnon.
The graffiti was removed within 24 hours, Gagnon said.
“The antisemitic desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is completely unacceptable, and I strongly condemn this hateful act,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement on Twitter, urging anyone with information to contact the police.
Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement the graffiti targeted Jewish people.
“The hateful desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with an antisemitic symbol is despicable,” he said. “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents the gallantry and the sacrifices of all those who fought for our freedom.”
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a grave containing the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier from a cemetery near Vimy Ridge, flown back to Canada and buried again in 2000.
It’s also where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was standing as an honour guard when he was killed Oct. 22, 2014. The six-year anniversary of that attack was less than a week after this incident.
Canada’s veterans affairs minister said he was disgusted by the “desecration.”
“This was not the vandalization of public property — it was the desecration of a site that stands as a permanent reminder of the memories and sacrifices of every single person who has fought and died in service of Canada,” said Lawrence MacAulay in a statement.
The suspect is described by police as Caucasian, wearing a light-coloured sweater and dark pants, tuque and backpack. The bike was something like a mountain bike, they said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact a Hate Crime Investigations Unit detective at 613-236-1222 extension 5453 or to leave an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers.