Signs of support targeted by vandals in Barrie

When Nicole Kirker woke up Tuesday morning at her Barrie home, she found her 'Every Child Matters' flag on her lawn cut in half and her 'Hate Has No Home Here' sign in pieces.

"At first, I was angry, but then I got more sad and sad because I'm wondering how is this person feeling to be that full of hate," Kirker says.

Kirker says when she checked her surveillance camera, the video showed someone walking away from the scene holding what appears to be a piece of the sign.

A sign of support, now a target of vandalism.

"I retired from law enforcement in April of this year, and ever since the George Floyd incident, I vowed that I would start to listen, challenge my beliefs and try to be a better ally," Kirker says. "The feelings I felt the day after being vandalized is only a minuscule of what the BIPOC community face each and every day."

Kirker says the flag was only up for one week, which she purchased in recognition of Orange Shirt Day.

"One of the most important things for me is Sept. 30, which is Orange Shirt Day," Kirker says. "I wanted to have (the flag) up for the month of September to engage people in conversation, maybe educate people who don't know that day exists."

Now Kirker says she's concerned that whoever vandalized her property is either going to get hurt or escalate their actions.

Other videos have also surfaced on social media, one showing another sign being stolen from someone's lawn.

"It's unfortunate," says Nikki Glahn, founder of Barrie Families Unite. "Every couple of nights, we hear of one or two here or there in the East end, in particular. There seems to be a problem with it," Glahn adds.

Barrie Families Unite is the organization behind the campaign, 'Hate Has No Home Here,' and says acts of vandalism have increased in the past two weeks.

It was brought to Barrie after the finding of mass graves on the grounds of former residential schools and after a tragedy in June, where four Muslim family members were killed in what police allege was a hate crime.

"It's really about inclusivity and making a stance, and that is really what our not-for-profit agency is about- making sure everyone feels included, and they don't have to live in our community with these types of judgements," Glahn said.

Glahn says she does not believe the signs are being targeted for any particular reason.

"The only thing we can do to combat it is to keep showing up and keep the message out there," Glahn says.

Which is precisely what Kirker is doing. She has already replaced the sign on her front lawn and placed an order for a new flag.

"I think it's important to show whoever this person is that we won't be deterred," Kirker says.

Kirker did report the incident to police, who told CTV News in a statement, "Unnecessary and malicious damage to anyone's property is unacceptable behaviour. If this happens and is reported to police and the perpetrator is identified, they can be charged and held criminally responsible for their actions."