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Volunteer Rob Vittera finishing painting over the swastika at the side of 792 Campbell after removing the 2nd swastika from the window of the sun porch. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


Large swastika on 792 Campbell before Rob Vittera painted over it. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.


The Singers house at 796 Campbell (white bungalow) faces the swastika and the word MOVE spraypainted on the side of 792 Campbell St. Photo by Rhonda Spivak.

 
NO MORE SWASTIKAS ON 792 CAMPBELL STREET- ROB VITTERA VOLUNTEERED TO REMOVE THEM

By Rhonda Spivak

Rob Vittera, a subscriber to the Winnipeg Jewish Review (WJT) who read our article last Wednesday, May 12 about the spray-painted swastikas on 792 Campbell Street came forward of his own initiative and  removed the swastikas with the co-operation of Kay Robertson and Earl Varlow, the residents of 792 Campbell Street.

Last Wednesday, May 12, the Winnipeg Jewish Review first broke the story that unknown vandal/s had spray-painted a large swastika at the side of the house at 792 Campbell Street. The word “MOVE” was painted under the swastika and another swastika was spray-painted on the window of the sun porch. [the complete article we ran last week follows at the end of this article].

These swastikas were spray-painted in such a way that they directly faced the entrance and kitchen window of the home of Mrs. Marsha and Lawrence Singer , who live at 796 Campbell.

On Thursday afternoon,  May 13, less than 24 hours after we broke this story, Rob Vittera, who is married to Marla Vittera (nee Binder), and is a parent in the Hebrew-bilingual program at Brock Corydon school went down to the house at792 Campbell.

“I read the article with dismay. Something had to be done about this. The swastikas couldn’t just be left there,” said Vittera shortly after the article was published. 

“I spoke with Earl Varlow, who resides there and he didn’t seem to be in any hurry to paint over and remove the swastikas on the house,” Vittera told the Winnipeg Jewish Review.

“So I volunteered to take care of it. It was necessary. Something had to be done about it.   As it is they were up there way too long.” he added.
Vittera mentioned to Mr. Varlow that there was a program of the City of Winnipeg to remove graffiti and got Varlow’s consent to allow him to deal with this.

“On Friday morning [May 14] I went down to the Lyle street precinct of the Winnipeg Police and picked up spray paint wipes and a paint voucher.  The police looked in their records and told me that there never had been a police report filed by the residents at 792 Campbell Street regarding the spray painted swastikas.  The only incident they reported was the incident involving a b.b. gun shot through their window.”

What Vittera learned was contrary to what the residents of 792 Campbell told the Winnipeg Jewish Review last week, which was that they had reported the earlier incident of the swastikas but not the later incident involving the b.b. gun.

“The officer at the Lyle street precinct told me that when I went back to the residence I should have Kay Robertson, [who is in her eighties] call and make a police report,” Vittera noted.

On Friday, May 14, Vittera went to the house at Campbell, dialed the police for Robertson and she made the necessary report while he used the wipes to remove the swastika on the sun porch.

“I used a razor blade to scrape the paint off the window, then I washed the window screen in soap and water and then I used leather shoe dye to make the screen black again,” Vittera explained.

He added, “By the time I got there on Friday [May 14] someone else had painted over the swastika with white paint. The swastika could still be seen through it, but someone had tried to remove it.  Neither Robertson nor Varlow knew who it was who had done this. They weren’t informed. ”

Vittera, who has always been “the handy–man type” noted that when he got there on Friday there were some passersby from the neighborhood who were coming to the house to see the swastikas.

“There was more traffic than usual on the street. A young man wearing a kippah was there on the street when I got there,” Vittera said.

Last weekend, Vittera went and picked up proper paint to paint over the swastika at the side of the house.

“I went back [on Monday morning May 17] and painted over the side of the house,” said Vittera.

Vittera notified the Winnipeg Jewish Review to update the Review of the situation, and was going to be anonymous, but decided to agree to let the Winnipeg Jewish Review report on this after the fact.

When asked how many hours all of this took him, he replied “about six or so.”

While Vittera is a very good handy-man, his background is in sales and marketing.

He says he isn’t “looking for more painting jobs, but had the time available while he is on an “unplanned employment hiatus.”

At the end of last week Constable Natalie Aiken, who had been contacted by the Winnipeg Jewish Review, to inquire about this incident called to say that after speaking with the hate-crimes department, she had “forwarded this to the public works and community services department” and “was hoping someone could assist in persuading her [Kay Robertson] to take this [the swastikas] out. 

As it turns out, Vittera had already accomplished that.

 

WHY ARE THERE LARGE SWASTIKAS ON THE HOUSE AT 792 CAMPBELL ST.?

By Rhonda Spivak

Anyone walking down Campbell street between Mather's and Grant in River Heights will be able to see a very large bronze coloured swastika spray painted on the south side of the house at 792 Campbell Street. Underneath the swastika the word MOVE is spray painted. Next to this large is another swastika spray painted on the window of the sun porch of the same house.

The Winnipeg Jewish Review received a "tip" from a source who wishes to remain anonymous, asking us to go to the scene to investigate this matter.
Both swastikas on 792 Campbell face the side door (which is the main entrance) of the house at 796 Campbell.

The house at 796 Campbell  is owned by Marsha and Laurence Singer. Marsha Singer, who has lived there since the 1950’s told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that “I can see these large swastikas every time I open the door or look out my kitchen window. They are staring me in the face.”

Singer said that the swastikas were put there “sometime in the winter last December” [2009] and she doesn’t know who did this.  I assume it was “some kids.”  She added that she assumed that her neighbors who live at 792 didn’t paint over the swastikas “because it was too cold in the winter to paint.”

When asked if she thought these swastikas were directed at her because she is Jewish, Singer responded, “I don’t know who did this but if it’s directed at me, I’m NOT MOVING.  I was here before you [vandals].”

For the past few months, Singer said “Every one who has come to my door has asked me if I know about the swastikas.” She said “I got used to them already.”

Kay Robertson, an elderly non-Jewish woman, who lives at 796 Campbell St. told the  Winnipeg Jewish Review that she reported this matter to the police, “but nothing has happened.” She assumed “It must be some kids who came around here.”

When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review, if she was going to paint over the large swastika on the side of her house, Robertson first answered, “I don’t see it because I doesn’t pass by it to enter my house. I don’t care if it’s there. It doesn’t bother me.”

But afterward Robertson said “I don’t like it [the swastika].”

Earl Varlow, an elderly man who lives at Robertson’s  house “part-time” says he intends to paint  over the swastika.  He told the Winnipeg Jewish  Review “I guess we’ll have to replace the porch window.”

Robertson said “Maybe we’ll be able to take a knife and scrape it off the window.”  

Varlow added, “Eventually we’ll have to replace the screen,” since the spray painted swastika is on the screen also.

Varlow also said he was the one who spoke to the police, but he no longer remembered the incident number.

Robertson added, “About two weeks ago, someone came back and shot at the window of our sun porch with a b.b. gun.  I don’t know if it was the same guy or not.”

Roberston and Varlow showed the Winnipeg Jewish Review the hole in the glass window made by the b.b. gun shot.  It is next to the window of the sun porch with the spray painted swastika.

When asked if they had reported this second incident to the police, Robertson said, “No I haven’t. They won’t know who did it”, and said she didn’t know why her house is being targeted.

Neither Robertson or Varlow indicated that they had decided one way or another whether they were going to notify the police.

On Robertson’s garage facing the back lane there is the word “gov?” also spray painted n what appears to be the same colour spray paint as the swastikas.

When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review if they have any enemies that would do this kind of thing, Varlow answered, “No, not that we know.  We assume its just some kids doing this, but we don’t know why they chose ours house.”

Robertson said she didn’t know whether the vandals knew that her neighbor who would be facing the swastikas on her house was Jewish.

When the Winnipeg Jewish Review pointed out that anyone walking down the street would be able to see the  large swastika on the side of her house, Robertson said, “Really, I didn’t realize that.”

Singer told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that there is a “smaller spray painted swastika” on the garage a couple houses up the way closer to Grant.”

On inspection, the Winnipeg Jewish Review found a spray painted insignia there, but it  didn’t fully resemble a swastika, although it appeared to be the same colour of spray paint as the other swastikas at 792 Campbell.

CAN OWNERS OF  PRIVATE PROPERTY  LEAVE SWASTIKAS UP?

On May 10, the Winnipeg Jewish Review spoke by telephone with Constable Natalie Aiken of the Winnipeg Police Department who confirmed that “A report about the incident had been made,” but that there were ‘‘no known suspects.”

Aiken advised that the Winnipeg Police had explained to the residents of 792 Campbell St. that the City of Winnipeg would provide free graffiti wipes or paint vouchers so that remedial measures could be taken to remove the swastikas.  Aiken noted that a resident whose home is vandalized with graffiti can call the number 311 and get assistance removing the graffiti.

“She [Robertson] was advised of these measures,” Aiken said, and indicated that the file had been seen by the hate crimes unit of the Winnipeg Police Department.

When asked what the police would do if Robertson did not paint over the swastikas or remedy the situation, Aiken responded, “There is nothing we can do. It is private property and we can’t make her take the graffiti down.”

The Winnipeg Jewish Review then asked Aiken whether in the event a person deliberately chose not to paint over or cover up swastikas visible to his or her neighbors and the public, that person could potentially be the subject of a criminal prosecution for willfully promoting hatred against Jews?

Aiken was unable to answer this question and said that she would have to consider it and get back to the Winnipeg

 

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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