Edmonton police have arrested and charged a woman for allegedly assaulting a Black Muslim woman in a south Edmonton neighbourhood.
The victim was the third Black Muslim woman attacked in the neighbourhood in under a week. Police say the attacks were racially motivated, but not connected.
As first reported by the Edmonton Journal, the latest attack took place on December 15 on an LRT platform. Police say in a press release that Rene Ladouceur, a 32-year-old woman, approached a 23-year-old Black Muslim woman in a hijab she didn’t know.
“Without provocation, the accused proceeded to try and strike the woman in the head with a shopping bag, while yelling racially motivated obscenities at her,” said the release. “The complainant, a Black woman wearing a hijab, avoided being struck by the accused, then ran past her attacker, as the accused continued to try and thwart her escape.”
Police say a peace officer quickly apprehended Ladouceur, who has been charged with assault with a weapon and nine outstanding warrants for unrelated events. Authorities are recommending this charge be treated as a hate crime.
The attack follows a similar incident in the area on December 8, when police say 41-year- old Richard Stevens walked up to a Black Muslim woman and her daughter, who were wearing hijabs and sitting in a car, and “began yelling racially motivated obscenities at the women.”
“Witnesses told police the male then allegedly proceeded to punch the passenger side window causing it to shatter,” the police release said. “Fearing for her safety, the passenger then ran from the vehicle. The male ran after the complainant, pushed her to the ground and began assaulting her. The second female attempted to assist and was also shoved to the ground by the accused, before several citizens intervened and stopped the attack.”
In the release, Sgt. Gary Willits, of the EPS Hate Crime and Violent Extremism Unit, said, “These individuals were targeted due to their race, therefore making this a hate-motivated crime.
“The attack on these women is horrific and our hearts go out to them.”
Stevens has been charged with one count of mischief and two counts of assault.
Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Centre of Edmonton, told the Edmonton Journal these are not “isolated incidents” and this is the first time he's felt unsafe in Edmonton.
“Our community now, it’s not going to be easy for them to come out of their house and even go shopping, because they don’t know what could happen to them,” he said.
Ibrahim said a second man was involved in the December 8 attack and wants police to release an image of the man
Momin Saeed, the executive director of Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, called the actions “shameful” and told VICE World News that the community is dealing with a “level of fear, disbelief, and disappointment.”
“I get messages from friends who say, ‘Is this really happening in 2020?’” said Saeed. “There’s no sugarcoating the reality that there has been a substantial rise over the past years of this type of hate, of these types of incidents, and the online hate you see.”
Trent Daley, the vice president of integration at AMPAC and a board member of Edmonton’s Anti-racism Advisory Committee, said that this was indicative of the scapegoating of minorities that has been occurring for years, which has increased during the pandemic.
Last month Premier Jason Kenney partly blamed the province’s alarming spike in COVID cases on the South Asian community, while remaining tight-lipped about hundreds of anti-maskers who had gathered in Calgary to protest pandemic restrictions..
Kenney condemned the attacks on Twitter. “Frustrating to see another instance of hate-motivated violence in Edmonton. This is completely unacceptable, it is revolting, it is un-Albertan,” he said.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson tweeted, “racist hatred has no place here.”
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.