CROWN PROSECUTION AND EDMONTON POLICE SERVICE’S INADEQUATE RESPONSE TO ISLAMOPHOBIC ATTACK RAISES SERIOUS CONCERNS
(Edmonton – July 20, 2022)
NCCM is deeply concerned about the Crown prosecution and Edmonton Police Service’s problematic response to an attack last January on a Muslim family and their vehicle outside of a mosque in the city.
On New Year’s Day, a man walked up to the family’s vehicle several times in a mosque parking lot, spat on the car window, hurled verbal Islamophobic abuse at the Black Muslim woman (who wears a niqab or face veil) who was driving the car, punched the car window (causing damage), threw a pot at the vehicle, threatened the family with a shovel, and told the woman that he was going to “finish” her. This incident occurred while the woman’s children were in the car.
He also destroyed garden pots near the mosque entrance and resisted arrest when the police arrived on the scene to apprehend him. Right before police put an end to the attack, the suspect was also chasing the family vehicle, shovel in hand, into a dead end. His actions have deeply traumatized his victims, which include children, one of whom recorded the incident.
The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) initially did not attempt to get a full accounting of the incident from the mother, who is of Somali descent and is not fluent in English. They did not provide her with a translator to facilitate her retelling of the traumatic event. Instead, EPS officers relied on an incomplete statement from the mother’s daughter, who was also on the scene, and is a minor. Only after NCCM intervened was the mother provided a translator to tell her story.
Further, the attacker was only charged the suspect with one count of mischief under $5000 and one count of uttering threats, to which he has recently pled guilty. He was sentenced to 90 days of incarceration followed by one year of probation.
When NCCM questioned why more serious charges, like assault charges, were not laid, no meaningful response was provided.
“We know that many are deeply frustrated with the EPS’s lack of communication with the affected family, community members, and advocacy groups regarding this case,” said Said Omar, NCCM’s Alberta Advocacy Officer, “The EPS failed to take in and seriously consider the retelling of the incident from the only adult victim, the mother, let alone offer her and her children the reasonable support. The charges for property damage and uttering threats do not properly reflect what actually happened during this assault.”