Last December, Reverend Anthony Bailey went to an Ottawa jail to see a teenager who had spray painted racist and threatening graffiti on his church. He hoped to offer support and show him the error of his ways.
"I was surprised that he agreed to meet with me, but I was glad," Bailey, a black man with a predominately black congregation, said on Tuesday from the Parkdale United Church after Bible study. "I wanted to extend him an opportunity for us to get to know each other better, for him to get to know my community, and to see how we might come to a different way of treating each other."
The Ottawa teen — whose identity is protected because he was 17 years old at the time of the crimes — was also charged in connection to a spate of hateful graffiti sprayed onto a local mosque and synagogue in November. On Friday, he pleaded guilty to five criminal charges including threatening people based on their religion and race, and inciting hatred against identifiable groups of people including black people, Muslims, and Jews. A jury will decide in May whether he should be sentenced as an adult, and the amount of jail time he'll serve.
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