Woman in hijab assaulted in 2nd ‘hate-motivated’ attack in Edmonton this month – CBC.ca

Posted: December 19, 2020 at 10:57 am

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Edmonton police say a 23-year-old Black woman wearing a hijab was attacked at the LRT station at Southgate Centre, which was the scene of a hate-motivated attack on two women wearing headscarves earlier this month.

Edmonton policeare investigating after a woman wearing a hijab was assaulted Tuesday at the Southgate LRT station the second high-profile attack in seven days against Muslim women wearing headscarves.

Both attacks were at Southgate Centre, a mall at 51st Avenue and 111th Street in south Edmonton. On Dec.8, two women wearing hijabs were assaulted in the parking lot.

Premier Jason Kenneycondemned the assault on Twitter,saying it is "completely unacceptable, it is revolting, it is un-Albertan."

Leela Sharon Aheer, minister of culture,Kaycee Madu,justice minister,Rajan Sawhney, minister of community and social services and the Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Councilissued a jointstatement condemningthe incident.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson denounced theassaults as "heartbreaking" and said"the responsibility to condemn racially motivated behaviour falls on all of us."

A 32-year-old woman has beencharged with assault with a weapon in Tuesday's unprovoked attack at the mall's LRT station, police Chief Dale McFee said Wednesday.

McFeesaid the victima 23-year-old Black womanhad just entered the southeast doors of the Southgate LRT station around10:45 a.m. when she was accosted by a stranger.

The accused repeatedlytried to strike the victimin thehead with a shopping bag while yelling racially-motivated obscenities at her, McFee said.

The victim ran away while the attacker triedto "thwart her escape," McFee said.A transit peace officer at the scene intervened and called police.

The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council received a letter from Edmonton police on Tuesday, confirming an investigation by the EPS hate crimes unit.

In the letter, which was obtained by CBC News, police said the attack "appears to be racially and hate-motivated."

Rene Ladouceur, 32, is charged with assault with a weapon and nine outstanding warrants for unrelated charges.

In a statement issued Wednesday, police said the EPS Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit is also recommending that Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in this case, allowing the courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence the offence was motivated by hatred.

Police said the twoincidents at the Southgate Shopping Centre are not believed to be related.

McFeedenounced the latest attack and said police are working with the victim and her family.

"It's not something we ever want to see in our city," he said. "This will now proceed before the courts and hopefully we'll see this dealt with accordingly.

"These things will never will be acceptable and those who choose to do this to other members our community are going be held accountable."

Council presidentFaisal Khan Suri, president of theAlberta Muslim Public Affairs Council,said the council has also been in contact with the victim of Tuesday's attack, and her family.

"The suspect had swung at the individual," Suri said. "She kind of ducked out of the way, so she did not get hit. But there was ...one or two tries, attempts to assault the individual."

He said there has been a troubling rise in Islamophobia and racism in the city.

"They're being targeted by their identity, what they show," he said."These are hijab-wearing women whose identity is very visible, and what is happeningis happening out of hate."

In the Dec. 8 incident at SouthgateCentre, Edmonton police officers responded to an assault in progress in the parking lot around 3:40 p.m.

Officers were told that a man approached two Somali women wearing hijabs sitting in their vehicle and began yelling racially motivated obscenities at them.

Witnesses told police the man then punched the passenger-side window, shattering the glass. Fearing for her safety, the passenger ran from the vehicle and the man chased her, then pushed her to the ground and began assaulting her.

The second woman tried to help and was also shoved to the ground before bystanders intervened and stopped the attack.

Following an investigation by the Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit, Richard Bradley Stevens, 41, was charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief.

Police said the investigation into the Dec. 8 case is ongoing.

In a statement onFacebook on Tuesday, the Muslim affairs council thanked the Edmonton Police Service for its "prompt action" in the latest investigation and urged community members to be vigilant of their personal safety.

Edmonton's Muslim community is on edge, Suri said.

"These are a couple of utterly unprovoked incidences," he said. "Unequivocally horrendous and horrific for anyone to experience."

"There's definitely fear because this could be anyone's daughter, sister, mother."

On Twitter, Kenney said it is "frustrating to see another instance of hate-motivated violence" in Edmonton.

"As the legal process takes place, we hope to see justice swiftly rendered for the victim of this crime," the premier said.

During a news conference Wednesday, Ivesondescribedthe attacksas heartbreaking and unacceptable."I condemn these assaults in the strongest terms," he said.

The mayorsaid the city remains committed to improving commuter safetywith additionalsecurity officers,surveillance cameras and new crime reporting tools. However,he said low ridership during the pandemic has brought added challenges.

When the system was full, Iveson said, there was "natural accountability."

"In addition to all of the cameras, you'd have literally the eyes of Edmontonians on each other. And that does create a certain amount of accountability and compliance."

Iveson said the city will continue to work with community leaders in an attempt to confront racism in all its forms.

'It is heartbreaking because it is not my idea of Canada, and it is definitely not my idea of Edmonton. But that hatred does linger and festerin all communities and needs to be called out for what it is."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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Woman in hijab assaulted in 2nd 'hate-motivated' attack in Edmonton this month - CBC.ca

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December 19th, 2020 at 10:57 am

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