Ottawa police investigating 2nd case of racist graffiti at U of O this month

·3 min read

The Ottawa police's hate crime unit is investigating a case of racist graffiti at the University of Ottawa campus for the second time this month.

According to a post and photos published on social media, the N-word and the word "Black" were scratched into a car over the weekend.

Police said the incident happened in the area of King Edward Avenue and Templeton Street, between 8 p.m. on Saturday and 6 a.m. on Sunday.

"As we stated before, the University of Ottawa unreservedly condemns all acts of racism," wrote university spokesperson Patrick Charette by email. "Every individual has the right to live in dignity, free from discrimination."

2nd hate-motivated graffiti investigated

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) said no further information about the incident is available at this time.

A spokesperson for the service said it takes incidents like this seriously "and encourages anyone who has been the victim of this type of incident to report it to police."

Facebook Screenshot.
Facebook Screenshot.

OPS's hate crime unit also investigated graffiti left inside a building on campus on the weekend of Oct.17 and 18.

At the time, the university posted a statement online calling the incident "disturbing," condemning all acts of racism, but wouldn't provide further comment.

"The [u]niversity neither can nor will make any further comments on both incidents," Charette wrote on Tuesday evening.

OPS also wouldn't provide further details about the nature of that incident.

Incident 'disheartening and heartbreaking'

Babacar Faye, president of the school's student union, described a "climate of tension" on campus for Black and other racialized students.

"I was disappointed and shocked, especially" Faye said about the scratched car. "It's the latest in the series of incidents that have been really, really disturbing for Black students on campus."

They're refusing to acknowledge that students are in pain. - Josiane N'tchoreret-Mbiamany

Faye said his union is particularly disappointed with the response of the administration, which he believes should be taking stronger, proactive actions to address racism to ensure Black students feel safe and comfortable while studying.

As of now, the atmosphere present "doesn't give the impression that they're welcome on campus," Faye said.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

Josiane N'tchoreret-Mbiamany, who is on the executive of the Black Student Leaders Association and vice-president of equity for the Communications Student Association, said she wasn't surprised by the news.

Still, she called the latest instance of racism "disheartening and heartbreaking."

N'tchoreret-Mbiamany said the administration needs to better acknowledge and take responsibility for what's happening.

"It's like they're refusing to acknowledge that students are in pain, students are hurting, students are feeling unsafe," she said.

She would like the administration to look at long-term policies that address racism on campus, adopt a zero-tolerance stance when incidents arise and hire a more diverse staff.

In September, the university denounced reports that a racist comment was said during an online class. According to the reports, the racist language was used without a professor present.

Recently the school's president, Jacques Frémont, called for calm after a part-time professor used the N-word during a class discussion. The professor later apologized for using the word.

In May 2020, a report commissioned by the University of Ottawa's human rights office found race also played a role in a Black student being stopped by security while entering his residence in September 2019.