Community advocate calls for hate crime laws to change following Rosslyn School incident
EDMONTON -- The attack on 14-year-old Pazo prompted outrage in Edmonton – and a response – from Edmonton’s police chief.
In an update to media regarding the assault that took place near Rosslyn School in Edmonton, Chief Dale McFee said Thursday that the EPS hate crimes and violent extremism units have been involved in the investigation but have found no indication the assault resulted because of race.
“At this time, this incident is not believed to a hate-motivated event,” McFee said. “A highly inappropriate slur by one of the other youth was used during this incident. This in itself does not constitute a hate crime.”
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“Our investigation currently shows this began as a consensual school yard fight and was part of an ongoing dispute between a group of male youths that reportedly started late last year.”
The police chief also called for calm from community members after kids involved in the assault have received threats online.
Haruun Ali, a community advocate and candidate running for Edmonton’s Ward Papastew in the upcoming municipal election, agreed with the chief’s comments about threats.
“Anyone that is participating or doing this, please stop,” he said. “This is not what Pazo wants. This is not what’s good for the community."
That is where Ali’s agreement with Edmonton police ended.
He is upset that police are calling the assault a “consensual schoolyard fight.”
“A schoolyard fight is not when six people gang up on one person and beat, literally beat them to the point where they’re literally just lying there,” Ali told CTV News Edmonton in an interview.
Fareed Khan, founder of Canadians United Against Hate, condemned McFee’s comments in a statement to media.
"The statement by Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee on Thursday about the attack on April 16 targeting the Black teen identified as 'Pazo' is ludicrous and unacceptable, and is evidence of white blindness in the Edmonton Police Service,” Khan said.
"The police chief's comment that the mob attack on a single individual, who did nothing to defend himself, was 'consensual' also demonstrates that the top leadership at EPS needs to take off their blinders when it comes to dealing with racist attacks,” Khan added.
“How could anyone watch the video of the seven against one attack, where racial slurs and monkey noises were directed at the Black teen, and come to the outrageous conclusion that Police Chief McFee did.”
For Ali, if the laws do not allow for police to call the assault near Rosslyn School a hate crime, then they need to change.
“We need to start reviewing the laws,” he said.
When reached out to by CTV News Edmonton, Pazo’s family was not aware of McFee’s comments. The family said they would consult their lawyer before commenting.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson