People in New Glasgow and Dartmouth are reacting with anger and disappointment to the appearance of racist graffiti on several residential streets and buildings.
"It's troubling on many different levels, especially what our community is going through and in particular the African Nova Scotian community over the last couple of months," said Mayor Nancy Dicks. "There's been lots of trauma because of what's been going on."
The New Glasgow graffiti took the form of black spray paint with words and messages that included the N-word.
Social media pictures showed the phrase "B.L.M. watch out." There were some scribbles that included arrows, happy faces and frowning faces.
The graffiti was sprayed on the sides of a building and a couple hundred feet up several roads, on the sidewalk and roadway. According to police, the affected streets included Frederick, Temperance, Washington, Brother and Ann.
The most affected building on Washington Street was a warehouse that once held old arcade games. Dicks called that location "extra hurtful" as it is directly beside Second Baptist Church, which historically has a predominantly Black congregation.
In recent months, people in New Glasgow have had conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement. Second Baptist church, and the historically white First Baptist church, gathered for a community prayer to remember the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in an encounter with Minneapolis police.
"This is not something that we want New Glasgow to be," Dicks said. "It's like a slap in the face. It retraumatizes. There's a whole lot of things that happen in a community when this kind of visual is present."
Jeff Richard, the owner of Gunners Mobile Wash, said he spent four hours on Monday cleaning up the worst of the paint. He will return on Tuesday to finish two remaining streets.
"It was kind of a mixed message, but I'd say racism was part of it, which is completely awful," said Richard.
"There was a couple of N-words on the sidewalk. I got them cleaned off first just because it's disgusting. I've got a son that I'm trying to raise and bring up in this town, and stuff like that going on, it's disappointing."
Const. Ken MacDonald, who speaks for New Glasgow Regional Police, said police believe the graffiti was done between Friday and Sunday morning, when it was first reported.
MacDonald said police have not yet categorized what type of crime was committed, but have not ruled out a hate crime.
"Part of the investigational process is going to be looking at all those aspects. Whether it's mischief behaviour, whether it's hate crime material, so we look at all those aspects as part of our investigation," he said.
MacDonald said officers have gone door-to-door canvassing to see if anyone saw something, and urged people to send in tips if they witnessed something, or had security camera footage to contribute.
Also Monday, Dartmouth councillor Sam Austin wrote on his website that the word "noose" was spray-painted on a power pole outside the home of a person of colour.
"This was deliberate in its targeting and designed to terrorize and intimidate," Austin said, adding that Halifax police are investigating the incident and Nova Scotia Power has removed the graffiti.
Also in his district, Austin said a family with a "Black Lives Matter" sign in their window received a "hateful" letter in the mail with "truly despicable sentiments about Black Nova Scotians."
"It's not just Trump, it's not a rural problem, it exists right here in Dartmouth. We can't turn a blind eye," Austin wrote in his message to his community.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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