Ottawa Man Behind Antisemitic Posters and Stickers Sentenced to 18 Months House Arrest

After putting up approximately 80 antisemitic posters and stickers in 20 locations throughout Ottawa, Paul Koppe has been sentenced to over a year of home confinement.

Peter Smith
Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Image of the Ottawa courthouse. Source: SimonP/Wikicommons 

A man initially facing 26 charges of mischief relating to posting antisemitic flyers across Ottawa in 2021 has been sentenced to 18 months house arrest followed by two years probation after pleading guilty to the willful promotion of hatred.

Paul Koppe appeared in a courthouse in the country’s capital on Thursday before Ontario Court Justice Matthew Webber. He previously admitted to putting up an estimated 80 antisemitic posters and stickers over 20 locations. 

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“You hurt this community severely and they shouldn’t have to look at you,” Webber told him during sentencing, banning him from going near Jewish places of worship as a condition of his sentence. 

Koppe’s lawyer had previously asked for a conditional sentence, while members of the city’s Jewish community submitted a letter asking that he receive jail time. According to the Ottawa Citizen, the letter asked Webber to “take a strong stance against such vile acts” and said Koppe spread “fear and hatred” through the community. 

The Crown asked for jail time between six to nine months. 

During the sentencing Webber read part of the letter, stating that “the true impact of the posters and the lies contained within them cannot be explained in simple words on paper” and that they “sparked fear and hurt in the community.” 

“Let's be clear, Mr. Koppe's behaviour amounts to a hate crime,” Justice Webber told the court. 

In an agreed statement of facts, Koppe admitted to posting a large number of hateful flyers throughout Ottawa’s West End and the suburb of Barrhaven. Typically focusing on high pedestrian traffic areas like large department and grocery stores, posters affixed to lamp posts, mailboxes, trash bins, and more, blamed Jews for the African slave trade, the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, and invoked other antisemitic conspiracy theories. 

The court also heard how a search of Koppe’s home revealed a collection of Nazi memorabilia that the justice said created a “compelling body of evidence that one can infer that the accused at the time held racist beliefs regarding the Jewish population.”

Koppe was 29-years-old when he was arrested on December 8, 2021. He had no criminal record except for a 2016 charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. 

According to statements from the defence, Koppe lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdowns and began spending long periods of time alone investigating conspiracy theories online. 

Statements by Koppe read in court claimed his beliefs “started with podcasts about conspiracy theories” during a period of intense despair and anxiety. Mired by feelings of mistrust towards the government, scientists, healthcare providers and media, this eventually led to the “Jewish conspiracy.”

Since his arrest, Koppe has been engaged with a psychiatrist as well as the John Howard Society’s Project Reset. 

The court previously heard the opinion of Dr. Helen Ward, who testified that Koppe “no longer subscribes to any of the beliefs that were motivating him at the time of committing the offences.” 

While not psychotic, according to Dr. Ward, at the time of his crime his actions were “psychotic-like” in nature. He will continue to receive treatment as a condition of his sentence, which allows for travel under specific circumstances like employment or going to counselling.

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