Police treating attack on two Thornhill boys as a hate crime

York Regional Police car (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Police in York Region north of Toronto are treating an attack on two Jewish boys as a hate crime.

The assault occurred Saturday, Aug. 3 at approximately 6:30 p.m. in York Hill Park, near Clark and Hilda avenues in Thornhill, Ont., York Regional Police spokesperson Const. Andy Pattenden told The CJN.

“The investigation is being overseen by one of our specially-trained hate crime investigators at the district,” Pattenden added.

Representatives of B’nai Brith Canada spoke to one of the victims and his parents the next day, the organization noted.

According to B’nai Brith, the boys, who were wearing kippot, were approached by another youth who began swearing at them from behind.

As the two boys tried to leave the area, the youth allegedly punched one of them in the face and then followed him and his friend for some distance before fleeing the scene, B’nai Brith stated.

One of the victims later visited a hospital’s emergency department to seek treatment, B’nai Brith said. It added that the victims were unable to record the incident because it took place on Shabbat.

“This is an extremely serious incident, and we trust that law enforcement will give it the attention that it deserves,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “It is inconceivable that Jewish families will be afraid to send their children to the park, in a heavily Jewish neighbourhood, on the Jewish Sabbath.”

Saturday’s attack comes on the heels of two anti-Semitic incidents in Montreal on July 28, including one in which a taxi driver was caught on camera allegedly beating a Jewish passerby. The taxi driver was later fired and Montreal police are investigating.

In the other incident, a Jewish resident of Montreal was subjected to anti-Semitic death threats at a Tim Hortons outlet in the city.

While violent attacks against Jews are relatively rare in Canada, B’nai Brith’s 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents found that overall incidents, including violence, vandalism and harassment, increased from 1,752 in 2017 to a new high of 2,041 last year.