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Victoria police probe note targeting immigrants, gays

Jun 07 2012
Surveillance footage of the suspect who taped homophobic and anti-immigrant notes on the window of Aubergine Specialty Foods in Fernwood on Tuesday. 

Surveillance footage of the suspect who taped homophobic and anti-immigrant notes on the window of Aubergine Specialty Foods in Fernwood on Tuesday.

Photograph by: Handout , timescolonist.com (June 2012)

Victoria police are investigating a hate crime that appeared to target immigrants and gays after threatening notes were taped to the window of a Fernwood grocery store.

About 2 a.m. Tuesday, someone left two notes with homophobic language and a message for immigrants to "go home" on the window of Aubergine Specialty Foods on Gladstone Avenue, said owner Leon Zetler, who is South African.

Zetler is not gay but displays the rainbow pride flag in the store's window in sup-port of the local gay community. The store sells South African products and kosher items.

A passerby saw the note and contacted Victoria police, who alerted Zetler when he opened the store Tuesday morning.

Victoria police spokesman Const. Mike Russell confirmed the investigation is being overseen by the department's hate crime co-ordinator. Russell would not divulge the full text of the note. Police are taking the matter seriously, he said.

A surveillance camera inside the store recorded video that showed a man taping two pre-written notes to the front windows. Zetler has given the video to police as evidence.

The man is described as in his early 30s, with thick, light-brown hair, and facial hair.

Zetler said while he's upset that the incident happened, he's not concerned about escalating violence against the store. "I'm a little bit upset, but I'm not taking the stickers off the windows," he said. "Business carries on, life carries on."

Recent hate crimes in Victoria include anti-Semitic vandalism at a Jewish cemetery on Dec. 31, 2011, and in a playground in May 2010.

A candlelight vigil after the cemetery vandalism drew more than 1,000 people who denounced the hateful act. No arrests have been made in either case.

Anyone with information about the incident at the grocery store can call Victoria police at 250-995-7654.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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