Hate crimes unit investigating Beach newspaper
The police have launched a probe into the latest edition of Your Ward News, which features caricatures of Jews.
By: Ben Spurr Staff Reporter, Published on Wed May 20 2015
The hate crimes unit of the Toronto Police is investigating a complaint against a Beach newspaper that some residents charge is anti-Semitic.
Constable Kiran Bisla confirmed Wednesday that her unit is reviewing a complaint about the most recent edition Your Ward News, the cover of which featured caricatures of Jewish men. She said that while the force has received complaints about previous editions of the paper, to her knowledge only one has been made about the latest issue.
“We did receive the complaint and we’re currently reviewing it,” Bisla said. The unit will investigate whether the 14-page newspaper violates the sections of the Criminal Code that prohibits hate propaganda, and if officers determine that it does the force will consult with the attorney general about laying charges.
Bisla said the investigation isn’t straightforward and she doesn’t know how long it will take. “You have to go through the entire newspaper and look at the entire context of what’s being said. You can’t just take one part of it, you have to do a full review,” she said.
In an interview, Beach resident Dawn Chapman told the Star she made the complaint on Tuesday after receiving Your Ward News in the mail. “I was appalled. I was actually in shock,” she said, adding that she believes the caricatures amount to “demonizing Jewish people.”
One cover image depicts a postal carrier wearing Orthodox Jewish garb, spitting and yelling about the Holocaust as his eyes glow red and a bagel falls from his hand. Another shows two lawyers with large noses, speaking in Yiddish slang.
“When I called the police I actually started to tear up. Which seems extreme, but I was so deeply offended,” Chapman said.
James Sears, the editor-in-chief of Your Ward News, says that the caricatures are not Anti-Semitic. In an email to the Star last week, he said the images were intended to mock a Canada Post carrier who objected to having to deliver Your Ward News, which often includes Nazi imagery. The carrier was reportedly Jewish.
Asked whether the images were anti-Semitic, Sears responded that he had “avoided any direct mocking of Judaism.”
“I stuck with the Nazi issue that he brought up. Moses was never mentioned,” he wrote.
The paper’s publisher, Leroy St. Germaine, has defended the images as satirical and intended to mock a specific Canada Post employee, not the Jewish people as a whole.
Sears and St. Germaine claim that the paper has a circulation of almost 50,000 and is delivered throughout the federal riding of Beaches-East York.