Fleischer: “Second-largest attack in six years”
Graffiti removal expert Corey Fleischer turned his power washer wares on one of the main gateways to Laval, June 30, after a vandal marred the Lachapelle Bridge with Nazi symbols.
“I received a report around 6 a.m. that someone had spotted a blue swastika on the side of the bridge,” Fleischer told The Suburban.
This was not merely the act of wayward, attention-seeking youth, he added. Rather, whoever defaced the bridge committed to sowing racial and religious dissention.
“To my dismay, when I got there and surveyed the whole bridge, there were a dozen symbols defacing the bridge, including about nine swastikas and a couple of symbols of a Greek white supremacist party, Golden Dawn,” Fleischer said in an interview.
The vandal also scrawled “this is Golden Dawn controlled territory” on the pedestrian sidewalk, with an arrow pointing toward Laval, as well as other symbols, including one which signifies ‘Heil Hitler’.
“The guy who did this to the bridge had researched everything,” Fleischer explained. “This is the second-largest attack that I have removed.”
Removing racist graffiti has become a personal passion for Fleischer, who earns his living operating a graffiti removal firm Provincial Power Washing. He began removing hate graffiti in his spare time six years ago, and estimated that he removed about 40 racist tags during the first five years.
His efforts have ramped up in 2015.
“During the past six months, I have removed more than 100 tags, about 85 per cent of which are anti-Semitic,” he reported. “The other 15 percent are anti-Muslim, anti-homosexual and attacks against other races: Swastikas, as well as the N-word and homophobic slogans.”
Fleischer suggested that the increase doesn’t necessarily signify a spike in racism. Rather, as word his work spreads, more people are reporting the incidents to him.
“People are reporting hate graffiti in spots where I had never seen it before,” he said. “I can’t say whether there’s an increase but I’m getting more phone calls. A lot more phone calls.”
He added that two days before the Lachapelle Bridge attack, he removed similar graffiti from the train underpass on Marcel Laurin Boulevard, near the corner of Henri Bourassa, that he said was scrawled by the same vandal.
“It was the same paint, the same symbols, two kilometres down the road, two days earlier, June 28,” Fleischer observed.
He said that police and municipal officials don’t take hate graffiti seriously enough, even though security cameras from adjacent businesses captured the perpetrator on video.
“It was an 18-year-old, 140-pound guy walking up and causing this, trying to cause turmoil in the area and make people feel they’re unwanted,” Fleischer said. “The police view this as a secondary priority. They’re always notified, but nothing gets done. The same thing with the cities.”
“Half the battle is educating the public,” he concluded, “and getting more eyes looking out for this. I never realized the effect that this would have on people. I’ve put this mission above my business, above my personal life, above everything. Nothing in my life is more important than the mission that I’m on now.”
Corey Fleischer can be reached via his company’s website www.provincialpw.com or by phone at  983-8787.