Calgary Police say charges have been laid against Sebastian Rodriguez-Huerta, 23, regarding church vandalism earlier this summer.
On June 30, 2021, orange and red paint was splattered on church doors, buildings, and statues across BC and Alberta as a form of activism to protest the Catholic Church’s involvement in residential schools. Handprints and the number “215” suggest that the incident is directly connected to the revelation over unmarked graves at the location of former residential schools.
According to police, Rodriguez-Huerta was involved in at least 2 of 11 Calgary vandalism cases.
Despite many leads going nowhere, police say that a break in the case came in August after police sighted a man matching the description of one of the suspects.
“Our investigators are very dedicated to the work that they do and continue looking for new leads even when a case seems to have gone cold,” said Staff Sergeant Kurt Jacobs, with the Calgary Police Service General Investigations Unit.
“When we do get new information, it often breathes new life into an investigation as it did in this case.”
Police have now charged Rodriguez-Huerta with two counts of mischief to a property primarily used for religious worship. Moreover, police say the political motivation behind this vandalism and the specific targeting of a religious building meets the threshold of being a hate crime.
“Hate-motivated crimes are recognizable crimes, like assault, theft, vandalism or any other crime, where the offender was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate that is based on one of nine personal characteristics of the victim,” explained police.
Hate crime charges have yet to be added to Rodriguez-Huerta’s record, as police say that the courts do not consider any evidence of hate motivation until after a suspect is found guilty of a connected crime.
It is still not clear what — if any — political leanings Rodriguez-Huerta has or if he has any connections to political organizations.