'I'm sad': Hurt, threats continue for group in space next to BerMax
The hurt and fallout continue for a group of people who saw themselves as close friends with the owners of BerMax Caffé and Bistro.
Last week, Winnipeg police charged the owners with public mischief. They believe on the eve of Passover a robbery at the cafe was staged and anti-Semitic vandalism was falsely reported.
BerMax has since closed. Its leases were terminated, according to a letter on the door of the business.
Be’ TLV , which means from Tel Aviv, is a Jewish LGBTQIA+ events group that operated in the unit next to BerMax for the past two months and just moved out.
Be’ TLV tells CTV News about $500 was stolen, couches were flipped and their logo was vandalized.
“Our logo being destroyed after it was just put up. That was probably the hardest. To see something that we were so proud of and to see it destroyed and in such a hateful way destroyed," said Jai Siwak with Be’ TLV.
“It really makes you feel stupid that you trusted someone and you think you know these people … It's hard to wrap your head around,” said Les Kiesman with Be’ TLV.
Court documents show the family may have faced financial challenges.
Be’ TLV said they became close with the owners of the restaurant over the two months they were neighbours. When they first learned the restaurant was ransacked, they rushed to raise money and organize volunteers to help clean it up.
Since leaving the space, they say there has been no further contact with the owners and they have been scrambling to find a new space and get organized for their events.
“I'm really hurt, really angry. Not even angry at this point. I'm sad. My heart hurts," said Siwak.
She said the community has been supportive but they have been dealing with online and homophobic comments. They hope the police investigation brings the truth to light.
"When a situation like this is found be falsified or allegedly staged by the person who was first seen to as victim is really affected the credibility of an entire community,” said Kiesman.
“We're definitely victims of a crime for sure. We're like, everything we've worked so hard in the last year is now on hold,” said Siwak.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
56-year-old Alexander Berent, 48-year-old Oxana Berent and 29-year-old Maxim Berent have each been charged with one count of public mischief.
CTV News attempted to contact the family Monday and has not heard back.
Last week Alexander Berent denied any wrongdoing on the part of his family.