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Toronto man charged in hate-motivated investigation that saw ‘King of Kensington’ statue vandalized

Toronto police have arrested a suspect in connection with the vandalism of the “King of Kensington” statue at Bellevue Park, an incident that is being investigated as a suspected hate-motivated offence.

Police say that the accused spray-painted graffiti at numerous parks in the downtown core between Feb. 20 and 26.

Images circulating on social media show that the bronze statue depicting the late Jewish actor Al Waxman in Kensington Market was defaced with the words “Vote for Hamas.”

In a statement provided to CP24, the City of Toronto said that it “takes very seriously any graffiti vandalism that depicts hate speech.”

“There is no place for hate in our city and we all have a role to play in creating a safer and more inclusive city for everyone,” it said.

“Once City staff were made aware of the defacing of the (Waxman) statue on Saturday, they coordinated with police and took immediate action to cover the statue and understand how to safely remove the graffiti.”

A specialized contractor that handles heritage monuments was brought in to clean up the graffiti, which the city said has now been removed. The repair job cost Toronto just under $100.

The city went on to note that it “embraces the principle that diversity strengthens and enriches the community socially, politically, culturally and economically” and therefore “condemns the promotion of hatred and promotes an environment without hate.”

On Monday, 41-year-old Matthew Doyle, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with five counts of mischief under in connection with the vandalism.

Several Jewish groups commended the police for making the arrest.

“These arrests show that antisemitism will not be ignored or tolerated; those who sow and perpetrate hate will be held accountable,” the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said.

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) called the incident an “utterly reprehensible act of antisemitism.”

“There must be no room for such hatred and promotion of terror in this city. We appreciate the prompt and resolute investigation by Toronto police that has led to an arrest and charges laid,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt.