Ever wondered who removes anti-Semitic graffiti and how? In Montreal, police have done it for years but recently, swastikas and hate messages have been skillfully removed free of charge by a professional, who gets rid of them quickly and efficiently.
Corey Fleischer of Provincial Power Washing has been removing graffiti for 10 years. He started out washing out trains and equipment for CP rail, and gradually started focusing on the graffiti end of the job, ridding businesses and homes who had been graffiti-bombed, mostly by artists or kids with cans of spraypaint and nothing better to do than write their names on walls.
“Four or five years ago I was driving along Monkland over Decarie,” recalled Fleischer. “I was in my truck, I looked to my right and I saw a swastika on one of the cement blocks.”
As a Jew, the sign appeared directed at him. As a Jew and someone who has the means to make a difference by having the equipment to remove it, he found it insulting. Fleischer pulled over, and right there on the spot removed the swastika. “That was the first one.”
Since then, he has made it his personal mission to rid the city of any hateful messages. “Bnai Brith Canada calls me when anti-Semitic messages are scrawled but I don’t only do graffiti removal in the Jewish community,” said Fleischer. “I also do any graffiti that degrades an entire religion and community. From Synagogues to mosques there are no boundaries for removing these hateful messages.”
Fleischer has discovered that it will often take time for bureaucracy to get its act together. When I met Fleischer, a string of hate messages and swastikashad been scrawled around the MacDonald Park area. Police had been informed but after several days, the swastikas and KKKs were still up. “I called the city three or four times already because these swastikas have been here three or four days and they didn’t respond so I’m taking things into my own hands,” he told me as he carefully coated the graffiti with a special solution. “It’s my way of giving back.”