April 25, 2019
The Jewish owners of a kosher cafe in Winnipeg have been charged by police for staging a violent attack against themselves and spray-painting their own business with antisemitic graffiti.
Their cafe was the target of repeated antisemitic vandalism the past few months.
From The Canadian Press:
What looked like an anti-Semitic attack at a Winnipeg cafe that drew public concern and political condemnation was not a hate crime but an alleged sham staged by owners of the business, police said Wednesday.
Officers responded last Thursday to a report that a woman who worked at the BerMax Caffe and Bistro was assaulted and that the business was vandalized and spray-painted with hate-related graffiti. It was the night before Passover.
After a lengthy investigation involving 25 officers and 1,000 hours of investigative work, police said they charged the three owners of the cafe — including the woman who was reportedly assaulted — with public mischief.
Police announced on Facebook they arrested BerMax Caffe and Bistro owners Alexander Berent, 56, Oxana Berent, 48 and 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.
“The restaurant was founded in 2015 by the Berent family – Jewish-Ukrainian immigrants who came to Canada in 2005 by way of Israel – and was operated by Oxana Berent and her son, Maxim,” CJN reports.
Mayor Brian Bowman condemned the alleged “act of hate” at the time on Twitter:
Here’s some pictures of the damage police say the Berents did to their own business:
— Brian Scissorhands (@WailinMercy) April 20, 2019
Photos inside BerMax Caffé & Bistro show graffiti, tables and chairs toppled over and broken dishware. One woman was sent to hospital. Winnipeg police investigating it as a robbery and hate crime. @ctvwinnipeg pic.twitter.com/R3LTs6DBd5
— Beth Macdonell (@BethCTV) April 19, 2019
The Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee said back in February, the previous time their cafe was vandalized, that it was “not for the first time #Winnipeg’s BerMax Caffe and Bistro has been the target of anti-Semitism.”
— CJPAC (@CJPAC) February 4, 2019
The suspected hate hoax was also used to launch a GoFundMe:
With heavy hearts we unfortunately have to put a hold on the remainder of our April events until further notice.
BerMax Caffé + Bistro has been a safe space for both the Jewish and LGBTQ community and the Berent's have been amazing allies to our… https://t.co/ovF5w2Rrd6
— BETLV (@mesibabetlv) April 19, 2019
Despite all the evidence against them, the Berent family are still proclaiming their innocence.
“It’s not something that we do,” Maxim Berent told CBC Manitoba. “It’s against our Jewish law — it’s against our beliefs.”
This article was posted: Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 5:32 am