Racial tensions spill into Peel...
by Jessica Padhi
Public anxiety and tensions are on the rise as hate crimes spill into Peel Region neighbourhoods.
The Criminal Code defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed against a person or property, which is motivated by a person’s hate, bias or prejudice against a race, ethnicity, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or a similar factor.
Police Chief Jennifer Evans says community safety is the number one priority of Peel Police. Together with the community, the Diversity Relations Bureau has been tracking trends and patterns to educate and raise awareness about incidents of hate-motivated crimes.
The Chief says the only way to fight racism, prejudice, and hate crimes is to strengthen relationships and awareness between religions and communities.
She adds educating about equality, acceptance, compassion, and mutual respect are the threads that will heal and strengthen our communities.
Constable Bancroft Wright, Peel’s Media Officer says, “incidents of hate crimes vary in Peel Region. There is no specific type.”
While there have been no sexual assaults related to hate crimes that have taken place, Wright said, “If it became sexual, there is a specific unit that would be investigating; it would fall under the Special Victims Unit.”
There have been several reported incidents–ranging from a Koran being ripped up at a community meeting to ‘White Power’ being spray painted on mailboxes.
The most recent was April 19th at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Brampton where the drawing of a stick figure shooting another stick figure with a gun was discovered on the boy’s restroom mirror. Police say it included a threat made about a shooting planned for the 20th.
That incident was reported in a post issued by the Dufferin-Peel Separate School Board the same day, which then led officials at St. Thomas Aquinas SS in Tottenham to implement a precautionary lockdown. “Brampton never went into lockdown,” Wright says. “What Peel Police did was get officers working with the school resource office and our Criminal Investigations Bureau to investigate the matter. We spoke with school officials, and the Separate School Board posted a statement to alert parents.
Wright encourages Peel residents to report anything they feel is a threat to their safety and well-being in the community. “If you see something, report it,” said Wright. Don’t wait.
The main goal of Peel Police is to have a safer community. Residents should report hate crimes and hate-motivated graffiti to police so they can act on it immediately.
Peel Regional Police are hosting a 5K Run Against Racism on the 10th of to raise awareness and help strengthen community ties. It is open to all, and police are encouraging everyone to come out and support by walking, running, or strolling.