Calgary police charge man in two cases of church vandalism
A Calgary man has been charged in connection with two instances of church vandalism from mid-summer — which occurred after the uncovering of mass graves at former residential schools. Calgary police asked for the public's help after eleven churches were vandalized around Canada Day.
In some cases, the churches were marked with orange and red hand prints and the number 215. Police say this suggests the vandalism was in response to the finding of residential school graves.
Preliminary findings in May indicated there could be as many as 215 burial sites at the former site of Kamloops Indian Residential School. Since then, many more unmarked graves have been found across the country.
A 23-year-old man has now been charged in connection with two of those instances of vandalism, police said in a release Thursday. Sebastian Rodriguez-Huerta is charged with two counts of mischief to a property primarily used for religious worship.
Police said the church vandalism meet the threshold of being hate-motivated crimes. Hate motivation is only considered once an offender is found guilty, where it can be considered an aggravating factor to add to the convicted person’s sentence.