Police investigating 'hate-motivated mischief' at Ottawa bikers' church

Ottawa police say they are investigating an incident of "hate-motivated mischief" at a Vanier church, discovered three hours before a service was held as part of the "Rolling Thunder" biker rally.

Police received a call about the incident at the Capital City Bikers' Church on Carillon Street just before 7 a.m. Sunday.

CTV News Ottawa’s Colton Praill reported thumbtacks were strewn across the ground in the church’s alley, and someone spray-painted, "No haven for fascism" on one of its walls.

Pastor Rob McKee didn’t mention the graffiti or thumbtacks at the church in a Facebook live post at 6:30 a.m., but the graffiti was visible on the walls of the church behind him. McKee also didn't mention the graffiti during the hour-long service, but did say it was "church as usual."

Church members spent the morning picking the tacks off the ground. The thumbtacks were cleaned up just after 9:30 a.m. 

“It’s extremely insulting,” Kimberley McGrath told The Canadian Press. "I had to let it brush off my shoulders, but for a lot of people it is traumatizing and it's hurtful."

Worshippers and “Rolling Thunder” supporters packed the church for the “bikers’ church service” Sunday morning, the final scheduled event of the weekend.

Church members cleaning up the tacks left on the ground. pic.twitter.com/ETYbUwLuxj

— Colton Praill (@ColtonPraill) May 1, 2022

The Ottawa Police Hate and Bias Crime Unit is investigating.

Mayor Jim Watson says the graffiti on the church’s wall is “not acceptable.”

“The defacing of any public property, particularly a church, is just reprehensible,” Watson told CTV News on Sunday. “If there’s camera footage and we can identify them then obviously the police will charge them with vandalism and potentially a hate crime."

The Capital City Bikers' Church hosted a bikers church service at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. It was the final scheduled event for the Rolling Thunder Ottawa event.

The church in Ottawa's Vanier neighbourhood, just east of the downtown core, was supportive of the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa in January and February, including providing meals to participants.

On Saturday, Interim Chief Steve Bell told CTV News Ottawa there had been no reports of vandalism or property damage downtown during the weekend event.  There have also been no reports of injuries.

Ten people have been arrested so far this weekend.

With files from The Canadian Press

Police are investigating an incident of hate-motivated Mischief at a religious institution located in the 100 block of Carillon Street that was reported to us just before 7am this morning. The Hate and Bias Crime Unit investigation is ongoing. Info? 613-236-1222 #ottawa #ottnews pic.twitter.com/GPYeCNFyd3

— Ottawa Police (@OttawaPolice) May 1, 2022