The owners of a Canadian café were reportedly arrested and charged with public mischief for allegedly staging an anti-Semitic attack at their property.
Winnipeg police said that all three members of the family that owns BerMax Caffé and Bistro were arrested since a report of a crime surfaced last week, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The news comes about a week after Winnipeg police responded to a report that a woman was assaulted at a restaurant and that the property was spray-painted with hateful graffiti.
Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said Wednesday that “the anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism” were “falsely reported as being done by outside suspects.”
“We found evidence of a crime. It just wasn’t a hate crime,” Smyth said, adding that he’s concerned the incident will lead to cynicism in the community.
Smyth reportedly declined to speculate the family’s motive for allegedly staging the attack.
Alexander Berent, 56, OxanaBerent, 48, and Maxim Berent, 29, are all facing charges of public mischief for the alleged hate crime stunt. Police said that the three were released after being arrested.
But the family has contended that they did not stage the attack. Oxana Berent told CBC that they wouldn’t “joke about swastikas on our walls.”
“My grandmother’s family, they died in the Holocaust. Just her and her little brother survived, the whole family. We don’t joke about that,” she said.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman denounced the family, saying they’re actions, if proven, would represent a “breach of trust” for the community, CBC noted.