Anti-Semitic Attack on Winnipeg Café Was Staged, Say Police

Well, this is disappointing. Four days ago I blogged about a vicious anti-Semitic attack on a local Winnipoeg café.

Well, it turns out that the attack was staged by the owners:

An incident at a Corydon Avenue cafe that was originally reported as one of Winnipeg’s worst-ever hate crimes was apparently staged, said police. Three owners of the BerMax Caffé were arrested Wednesday and charged with public mischief, which involves intent to mislead and causing an officer to investigate an incident based on false information. The cafe was allegedly robbed, the interior trashed and the walls spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti on April 18, although investigators now say that was all staged by the owners.

I have little tolerance for people who stage fake attacks in a bid for sympathy. I will no longer be honouring this café with my business in future. And this stunt has made me just a little bit more cynical and jaded than I was before. The next time something like this happens, I am going to stop and ask myself, “Was this staged?”. And this means I have lost a bit more faith in humanity, which is sad.

The Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg’s major newspaper, reports:

Shock and disgust rippled through Winnipeg’s Jewish community Wednesday when police chief Danny Smyth announced three owners of BerMax Caffé + Bistro had been charged with staging the recent anti-Semitic “hate crime” at the restaurant.

After more than 25 officers from three separate units dedicated 1,000 hours to investigating the April 18 attack – which marked the fourth time in five months the family business was tagged with bigoted graffiti – Smyth said investigators concluded the whole thing was staged.

“I am hugely disappointed and frankly angry that this family has used hate and racism in such a disingenuous way. In doing so, they have allowed cynicism to creep into this discussion, cynicism that trivializes genuine victims of hate,” Smyth said.

The cafe – located in River Heights on the 1800 block of Corydon Avenue – was trashed during the incident and a woman (one of the accused) told investigators she’d been assaulted. The word “Jew” was spray-painted in black on the restaurant floor and a swastika was sketched on the wall.

Here is the official police report from the Winnipeg Police Service website:

Winnipeg Police Service Major Crimes investigators have arrested 3 adult suspects in an incident that occurred on Thursday, April 18, 2019 at a restaurant located in the 1800 block of Corydon Ave. The following individuals were arrested on April 24, 2019;

Alexander Berent, 56
Oxana Berent, 48
Maxim Berent, 29
                                     
These individuals are all owners of the café. They are each charged with one count of Public Mischief and released. Public Mischief (CCC 140 (1)) occurs when an individual, with intent to mislead, causes a peace officer to enter on or continue an investigation based on a false statement or causing another person to be suspected of having committed an offence to divert suspicion from themselves.

Investigators believe that the initial report of a robbery was staged. Further, the anti-semitic graffiti and vandalism were also falsely reported as being done by outside suspects.

Hate-related crime is one of the most heinous acts we encounter as a society. It tears at the fabric of who we are as a country. False allegations of hate crime trivialize the trauma that genuine victims endure. The Winnipeg Police Service fully investigates all reports of hate-related crime. We encourage the public to report any suspected incident.

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