'If I wear a mask I will have an asthma attack': Man charged for anti-Asian racist tirade caught on camera in T&T supermarket

COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

A 48-year-old Mississauga man has been charged for a racist tirade caught on camera in Mississauga, Ont. on Sunday, July 5 which went viral after a white, non-mask wearing man berated staff at T&T Supermarket who told him he couldn’t shop at the store without a face covering.

“If I wear a mask I will have an asthma attack and these communists are attacking all of us...go back to China and take your coronavirus with you,” said a man in a racist tirade filmed by a bystander.

Peel Regional Police say John McCash turned himself into police on July 16 and was charged with causing a disturbance. McCash is set to appear in front of the Ontario Court of Justice on September 25, 2020.

"Hate-crime incidents have a negative impact on our community and create a ripple effect. It can increase feelings of vulnerability, anxiety and fear, not only on the individual who has directly been victimized, but also to the community at large. Reporting incident of hate-crime is essential to stopping these incidents; we are dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of all we serve," said Chief Nishan Duraiappah.

The video was uploaded to YouTube and has been viewed almost over 280,000 times and was filmed at the predominantly Chinese-operated supermarket. It starts with a white man with his wife near him dumping grocery products from a bag on the floor while telling staff he “will never come back here again.”

The man then goes on to threaten the staff that he’ll “have the media” here and staff can wear their masks and get sick.

“When you wear the mask, you get sick — it’s science,” he said.

Peel Region which is comprised of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon mandated masks shortly after the incident. However, T&T had implemented a mask-wearing policy as far back as May, and introduced forehead temperatures checks to boost safety.

The science around masks is starting to become rather unequivocal that they help reduce the transmission of the virus, and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has strongly recommended using face masks in public settings and in indoor venues.

This most recent refusal of service for someone refusing to wear a mask comes days after a woman tried to St. Joseph’s hospital staff in Toronto. The woman, Letitia Montana filmed herself being denied service for a potential broken finger.

After being asked repeatedly he was no longer welcome, the man said he didn’t want staff to crowd him and then demanded they provide him six feet of distance.

“This is a communist, socialist lie. Where did we get our Wuhan communist virus? From China, from you guys,” he said while shouting at staff.

The man then probes staff into asking where they’re from and one male employee responds “I’m Canadian.” At this point the main diverts his energy from bigoted attacks to saying his medical condition is the reason he cannot wear a mask.

“I have get sick with the mask, use your common sense. When you’re wearing a mask you’re breathing in old air,” he said.

After a couple more heated exchanges, the man then continues to tell staff that they’re not Canadian and indicates he may strike them.

“You’re as Canadian as my butt,” the man said, and the male employee continually responds “I’m Canadian,” at which point the racist man asks for distance insinuating he may get physical.

The racist sentiments hurled out by the man are representative of what Chinese-Canadians are enduring. A survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute found that 61% of respondents had changed their routines to avoid run-ins or unpleasant encounters since the start of COVID-19.

Almost half of the respondents (44%) were naturalized Canadians by birth, a whopping 64% of respondents felt they had been treated worse than other Canadians because of their ethnicity.

Furthermore, almost thirty percent reported being exposed to racist graffiti or messaging and having made to feel they pose a threat to the safety of other Canadians. Despite their poor treatment at the hands of other Canadians, the Chinese-Canadian respondents unanimously agreed they take pride in being Canadian and feel their duality is an important part of their lives.

Police confirmed they’ve been in touch with the victim and have offered help.

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