Vandals target front lawn library with white supremacy graffiti in Calgary

Calgary police are investigating a trio of incidents of hate-motivated vandalism that targeted the same free little library in Cedarbrae.


It’s a library that is on the property of a pastor who was born and raised in the community.

“The library has books and people in the neighborhood stock it, I stock it. Sometimes I stock it with stuff that’s from marginalized communities, different voices in the neighbourhood,” Rev. Dr. Kayko Driedger Hesslein told Global News. “And then also there’s occasions when we fly trans or Pride flags or Every Child Matters flags, because we want this community to be a safe and welcoming place for marginalized people.”

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On April 10, white supremacist stickers and graffiti were found on a little free library on the private property in the 3000 block of Cedarille Dr. S.W.

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The following Saturday, April 15, the homeowners found their property vandalized with more white-supremacy stickers and more derogatory terms written on their property. The homeowners reported the incident to police.

On Thursday, April 20, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., the lawn-mounted library was again vandalized with more derogatory and white supremacist language written on it.

Driedger Hesslein said she immediately removed the stickers and has had to sand down the paint to remove the graffiti “because there are kids who go to school along this street and it’s not nice for people to see.”

Anti-trans rhetoric was also seen on the little library. The white supremacist stickers appear to be similar to ones seen on transit and in parts of downtown Calgary.

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In the past year, white supremacist material has been seen on pedestrian overpasses in the city and at least one store in the city has been targeted.

Police said they have reason to believe that little free library was specifically targeted.

“It’s not very common that we see the same place, specifically a community library, targeted two or three times, especially within such a short period of time,” Const. Matt Messenger said.

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Messenger said this is the first time he’s aware of private property and a specific home being targeted.

He also said CPS is working on other investigations that are similar in nature, and doesn’t currently believe this was caused by minors.

Andrew Gautron works in the city’s tech industry and lives in Cedarbrae. He’s seen that little free library pass hands as the house has been bought and sold over the years. The library has become a community institution and he said Driedger Hesslein has become a great steward of it.

“It’s kind of one of those spots in our neighbourhood, one of many different spots, of course, in the neighbourhood, that people enjoy. But (Driedger Hesslein) really makes the effort of being inclusive to everybody,” Gautron said.

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“We’re just kind of like a warm, welcoming community. So it was very surprising to kind of see that that specific (library) targeted with this kind of harassment.”

He said he’s seen racist stickers invade the area recently.

“Canada Post mailboxes, lampposts, bus benches, signs, those types of things. But really, once the (warmer) weather kind of came in this year – and of course, near the end of summer last year – it’s really been a huge influx, seeing that kind of material,” Guatron said.

“We take that kind of stuff down. There’s a lot of children in our community. We don’t want to see that kind of hate around. We want positivity and at worst, maybe a missing pet sign.”

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“Hate-motivated vandalism, especially on private property, has a significant impact on both the victims and the community as a whole,” Messenger said. “Nobody should have to tolerate or be subjected to hate.”

Driedger Hesslein said it was shocking to see hateful stickers and graffiti in an otherwise welcoming suburb.

“But at the same time, we’re seeing these kinds of things on the rise. And unless people actually say something and make clear that it’s not welcome, I think it continues,” she said.

The Evangelical Lutheran pastor and theology professor said a member of her church has offered to build a new little free library, to be able to hold more books.

“We’re really excited to have that coming. And if someone graffitis it again, I’ll call the police again, send it off and put more books in.”

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Anyone who may have witnessed the vandalism or who has information about the incidents is asked to call police at 403-266-1234. Anonymous tips can be provided to Crime Stoppers.

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Police encourage citizens to immediately report vandalism or graffiti so the investigation and evidence-gathering can be done in a timely manner.

Hate-motivated crimes are crimes where the offender was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on one of nine personal characteristics of the victim. Evidence of hate motivation is considered by the courts after an individual is convicted of the crime. During sentencing, a judge can decide if hate was a motivation and add to the convicted person’s sentence.

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