Published online at GlobalTVEdmonton.com on March 9, 2011.
Linda Hoang, Global News: Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Racially-motivated crimes rare in Edmonton: officials
Despite allegedly racially-fueled hate crimes that recently took place in the city, officials say such incidences in Edmonton are far and few.
On Tuesday, police announced charges were laid against four men who taunted and attacked several individuals along Whyte Avenue in mid-February allegedly based on their race and sexual orientation.
“This whole thing is very disturbing,” said acting Insp. Darren Darko of the EPS Organized Crime Branch.
But as disturbing as the incidences were, Coun. Amarjeet Sohi, who is the council lead on “Racism Free Edmonton,” a group dedicated to speaking out against racism, calls the single-night hate crime spree a rare occurrence.
“These kinds of incidences are rare in our community. They are not reflective of our communities. Our communities are very welcoming, very inclusive,” Sohi said.
“Yes we have issues and we need to deal with those issues and we are dealing with those issues through Racist Free Edmonton.”
Sohi said Edmontonians can use the recent crimes motivated by hate as a chance to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“Whenever you have incidences like this, I think it really is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to make sure we’re dealing with racism and discrimination,” he said.
The city’s Centre for Race and Culture credits the Edmonton police and its Hate Crimes unit as one reason why extreme hate crime activities in the city are kept at bay.
“They are doing wonderful work in the city,” said Charlene Hay, with the centre. “They are educating each other, they are educating the judicial system, that this kind of violence isn’t just violence, it’s hate-motivated violence.”
Still Hay says although racially-motivated crime in Edmonton may not be as prevalent as it is elsewhere, there are still concerns.
“There is racism that we can’t even see, racism that we don’t even know we’re doing that really penetrates all of our instituations and affects all of our lives,” she said.
“We don’t need to just be concerned about racially-motivated violence although of course we are, we need to be educated about what racism is.”
Police say that on the evening of Feb 12., a group of four men involved in the hate crime spree were handing out pamphlets about a white supremacist group and an event the group is holding later this month in Calgary.
The group also has a website spouting similiar messages as on the pamphlet, including saying “whites from all over Canada and the U.S.A. will rise up and band together to express their racial pride.”
Police have charged James Andrew Brooks, David Roger Goodman, Jason Anthony Anderson, and Keith Virgil Decu, with a number of charges including criminal harassment, assault, mischief, and disturbance.
A court date for all of the accused has been set for March 17.