Toronto police have charged a Toronto man with what they believe was a “hate-motivated” assault after someone was assaulted while attempting to put up posters of missing Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas.
It’s not clear when the incident happened, but in a release issued Monday, Nov. 6, Toronto police say the victim, who has not been identified, was trying to affix the posters to poles in North York, at Yonge Street and Empress Avenue.
According to the release, a man accosted the victim, they got into an argument, then the suspect tried to rip the posters off. When the victim tried to stop it, police say the assault happened, although the victim was not injured. The victim reported the incident last Thursday Nov. 2.
Police have arrested and charged Omar Elkhodary, 32, of Toronto, with suspected hate-motivated assault, which police say they filed only after consulting with their service’s Hate Crimes Unit. Such a charge also raises the stakes in any eventual sentencing. Police also haven’t ruled out laying further charges in the future, under the Criminal Code sections covering hate speech bans on willful promotion of hatred or advocating genocide.
“If a person is charged and convicted of the offence, the Judge will take into consideration hate as an aggravating factor when imposing a sentence,” the Toronto Police Service said in the release.
The accused is set to appear in court in January, 2024 in Toronto at the Ontario Court of Justice. Police did not say whether the suspect has been detained in custody or released on bail.
This is at least the second time Toronto police have made a similar arrest in connection to a confrontation between persons ripping down Israeli hostage posters and those who challenge them for doing it. On Oct. 25, police were called to the downtown home of a Toronto woman who’d been injured while filming a suspect taking down posters near Bay Street and Richmond St. W. According to police, the suspect asked the victim if she was Jewish, and then assaulted her, leaving her with minor injuries.
According to a release, Selina Mew-Siew Chan, 40, was charged with “hate-motivated assault”, and is set to appear in court Dec. 19. Media reports say Chan once ran for mayor of Toronto in 2014.
Monday’s charge comes about a month after a Toronto man and two teens were charged for threatening students near the TanenbaumCHAT high school on Oct. 12. They each face four counts, including uttering death threats, threats about property damage and mischief. The two teens are 17 and 14 years old and can’t be named under youth protection laws. The third suspect, Enes Boydak, is 20. They all appeared in bail court in October.
As with the latest charge, Toronto police deemed this earlier case a hate crime investigation.
Police forces across the country have reported a noticeable rise in reported hate crimes against Jews and Muslims since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel killed 1,400 people and terrorists took 240 prisoners hostage back into Gaza.