In the wake of an alleged physical and verbal assault of a prominent community advocate in Barrie, groups like UPLift Black (UPLB) have called on police to add a hate crimes charge against the 30-year-old suspect.
Barrie Police Service (BPS) spokesperson Peter Leon says the Criminal Code is very specific when a hate crimes charge can be laid.
“In the Criminal Code of Canada, there are three specific sections that address hate, and there is a section that actually deals with sentencing of crimes that fall within that,” Leon explained.
The Downtown Barrie BIA said in a Twitter post that it came to their attention on Friday morning that an individual stopped her car in front of Shak’s World downtown and verbally and physically assaulted Shanicka Edwards. The BIA said the attack was racially-motivated.
Edwards, who is best known by the name Shak, founded Shak’s World
“The centre works with youth to nurture physical and mental wellness through after-school programs and provides mentorship for Black youth in our city,” said the BIA, in a statement posted to Twitter.
UPLB released a statement on Saturday condemning the attack and calling for more support to address racism in Barrie and Simcoe County.
A video of the incident shows a woman getting out of her car, and confronting Edwards, while screaming profanities and racial slurs.
“According to the Criminal Code, there are two types of hate propaganda, one that advocates genocide, and the other is public incitement of hatred,” said Leon.
He said what we traditionally see happen in our communities are incidents involving comments that are racially-motivated.
“There must be the promotion of hatred, and it must be wilful, intentional and deliberate for purpose,” said Leon. “I am taking those words specifically from Section 319 of the Criminal Code.”
“Something must be specifically identified in order for that to take place, and in order for that charge to take place, and there must be consultation with the Attorney General, as well.”
He said it’s not just a matter of laying a charge like the police would for mischief or theft.
Leon said police are very much aware of the content of the video.
“It is unfortunate that these things happen. We don’t like to see that it’s happened in any community, let alone our community.”
Leon said he could not get into the specifics if Barrie police have had previous dealings with the suspect.
She was arrested by OPP in Orillia on Friday night for an unrelated matter.
In relation to the incident downtown, Barrie police have charged her with assault, assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and failing to comply with probation
BIA Secretary-Treasurer Sarah Jansen condemned the attack.
“Downtown Barrie is a welcoming place that gets its strength from the resiliency of its people,” said Jansen, in a statement. “We support those who build our community up, and condemn those that tear it down.”
The BIA has pledged a $500 sponsorship donation to Shak’s World.