Calgary police investigating harassment of woman of colour riding transit

·2 min read

CALGARY — A Calgary man has been charged in what police are calling a racist tirade against a woman of colour on a light-rail transit train.

Police say a young South Asian woman was riding the train on Sept. 2 when a couple with a child in a stroller boarded.

Investigators say one of the parents sat in a seat with the child, while the other stood nearby.

They say a man on the train began telling the young woman to give up her seat for the other parent and, despite protestations from the couple, his comments turned into racial and sexual slurs.

Another passenger blocked the man's path when he stood up and started walking toward the young woman.

Police say they are treating the case as hate-motivated.

"No one should have to fear for their safety when they are out enjoying our city, especially if that fear comes from being targeted because of their race or some other personal characteristic," Sgt. Gareth Joels from the Calgary Police Service hate and extremism team said in a release Wednesday.

Gary Francis Dawson, 63, is charged with assault, criminal harassment, causing a disturbance and mischief.

There have been other reports in Calgary this year of women of colour being threatened, targeted by racial epithets or spat at.

In one case, an Alberta cabinet minister's daughter said she was walking with a friend downtown when a man grabbed her arm, pushed her and started swearing.

In another case, police made an arrest after a video surfaced of a man spitting on an Asian woman and using a racial slur.

In a third, a Black woman was spit on and called a racial slur by a stranger outside a store.

There have also been several attacks on Muslim women in Edmonton and area.

They include a vicious assault on a mother and daughter in a mall parking lot, an encounter in which a man threatened to tear off a woman's burqa and kill her, and an attack by a masked man wielding a knife at two sisters in their 20s wearing hijabs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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