CALGARY — Police in Calgary say they have charged a man in one of a series of alleged hate-motivated attacks in recent weeks.
Investigators say they have heard from several cultural and racialized communities that are worried about their safety and well-being after the attacks.
Several investigations are underway and police have now laid charges in a case last weekend where a woman and her son were approached on an LRT platform.
A man allegedly pushed the boy and began following the mother until she was helped by a bystander. She believes she was racially targeted
"If it's a hate crime it's a hate crime. There is a huge impact into our racialized communities when these things happen," said Senior Const. Craig Collins, hate-crimes coordinator for the Calgary Police Service.
"The early indication is the offender targeted someone because of their race or ethnicity. When you're targeted purely because of the way you look or the way you speak or your sexual preference it isn't just that person who suffers. It resonates into the community."
Carter Justin MacDonald, 31, has been arrested and charged with two counts of assault, one count of causing a disturbance in public and breach of a probation order. Police believe he may have been involved in four other cases.
Collins said in the January to June period in 2018 there were 37 hate crimes in Calgary; 35 in 2019 and 44 last year. This year there have been 16 hate crimes recorded with another 21 investigations underway.
He said the death of George Floyd in the United States a year ago seems to have given some people the courage to speak out.
"There has always been racism. There has always been intolerance but I think we're at a position where people are much more willing to come forward and tell us about these incidents," Collins said.
Police are still looking for suspects in two other cases. One involves a woman who was hit in the head with a frozen water bottle by a group of teens riding bicycles.
In another, Tianna Hay was spat on and called a racial slur.
She discussed the attack at a police news conference last week.
"I was racially targeted simply because of the dark brown complexion of my skin. He locked eyes with me, approached me and spat in my face," Hay said wiping away tears.
"Shortly after shouting 'you N word' and quickly again with more raging anger and hatred in his voice he repeated himself. 'Yeah. I called you an effing N word'," she said.
"The blare of his voice lingers in my head and the image of his face cannot seem to evade my memory."
MacDonald is to appear in court on June 9.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press