This story has been updated.
Toronto police have charged a man who was caught on video harassing a Muslim family at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in the city’s downtown with two counts of assault and one count of threatening death.
In the video, the man repeatedly calls Ontario “my fucking province” and asks the family where they’re from.
Police say they have charged Lombray Ball, 50, in the "suspected hate motivated" incident.
A TTC special officer told VICE News earlier in the week that the man in the video was arrested in relation to a second separate incident that happened Tuesday. She said the incident involved similar behaviour directed toward someone who was a “visible minority.”
“It just seems to be his behaviour. He seemed to be targeting people,” she said.
It’s not clear how Monday's incident began, but a video posted online opens as a man wearing a red Hawaiian shirt approaches the family. He exchanges words with one of the family members, who comments that his breath smells like alcohol.
“I don’t give a fuck,” the blonde man says, raising his voice. “You don’t tell me what to do in my province!”
“Your province?” the male family member wearing a blue shirt responds.
The blonde man steps close to the family member’s face and appears to push him with his chest, saying, “You don’t ask me a fucking question, you don’t fucking ask me a fucking question in my fucking province!”
He continues to verbally accost the family, even after someone calls police.
“You don’t ask me a fucking question in my province,” the blonde man continues. “Where the fuck are you from?!”
“I’m born here, you’re an idiot,” one of the men responds. “Brother get the hell out of here before I do something to you,” the man in the blue shirt says, shoving the blonde man backward.
Toronto police say the incident happened at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, the day after Faisal Hussain, a 29-year-old man from Thorncliffe Park, opened fire on Danforth Avenue, killing two people and injuring 13 others.
Police are not yet treating the Monday incident as a hate crime because the investigation is ongoing. They said there were no injuries and no weapons were involved.
According to Statistics Canada data released in November 2017, police-reported hate crimes specifically against Muslims increased by 253 percent between 2012 and 2015, before dropping slightly in 2016.
Although it's not clear that Hussain was a practicing Muslim, the Muslim community has been bracing for backlash in the wake of the mass shooting.
But Toronto police say they have not seen a rise in Islamophobia since Sunday’s deadly attack.
Similarly, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has not received “any noticeable increase” in reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes or hate incidents since the deadly attack.
However, NCCM spokesperson Leila Nasr told VICE News that under-reporting of Islamophobic hate incidents and crimes is an ongoing problem. Two-thirds of all hate crime victims do not report to law enforcement, according to Statistics Canada, and much fewer are reported to NCCM directly, Nasr said.
“So, at face value, the lack of increase in our own numbers may not be 100 percent reflective of what’s happening at the community level,” she wrote.
There could still be a “rippling effect of Islamophobic sentiment after incidents like Danforth,” Nasr continued.
“We find that much of what NCCM sees in times like this are variations of racist/Islamophobic microaggressions in the public sphere. In recent days, we have seen this surface in a significant way online (directed at ordinary individuals, as well as Muslim media personalities). These sorts of aggressions and changes in ‘tone’ can be very difficult not only to identify, but to document – and to prosecute where appropriate.”
VICE News visited the scene of the shooting Monday evening, after Hussain had been identified, and spoke to a woman who lives on the street where the gunman died. She blamed immigration for violence in the west.
“Muslims don’t fit in in the west,” declared Lydia, who did not give her last name, but said she is from Croatia.
A tense exchange with another resident, who was walking his dogs, followed, in which Lydia accused Muslims of being violent and having a greater degree of mental illness. The man responded that it’s not possible to blame violence on any one race or religion.
‘Dad, why is this man behaving like this?’
Visiting from Saskatoon, Hasan Pervej Ahmed was with his wife and two children at the ferry terminal when the scene unfolded Monday evening. He does not know the other family, but began recording video to document the incident in case police needed evidence.
Ahmed said the incident began when the family was walking together to the ticket box. The blonde man followed them from behind and started shouting, he said.
Ahmed, who is also Muslim, said the incident scared his two children, who are nine and 12 years old. “They never had this kind of experience before,” he said.
“I was sad the whole evening. We were travelling to the [Toronto] Island and I was not really enjoying the tour, I was really sad. My family was sad too. My kids kept asking me, ‘Dad, why is this man behaving like this?’ I couldn’t tell them, they are Muslim, and that’s why he’s harassing them.”
“Because then my children would feel down. They would feel scared and I don’t want them to have the same feeling that I have. They were born here and raised here and speak like Canadians, not like myself.”
He and his wife discussed the incident with his children later. He comforted them by explaining, “Not all people are bad, most people are good.”
Ahmed doesn’t think there is a problem of rising Islamophobia in Canada.
“I don’t think so. There are a lot of good Canadians too, they embrace us. There are a few bad apples who are creating problems.”
“I am an immigrant and I became Canadian three years back. This person, what he did is not like Canadian values. So I think if all the Canadians stand up to protect these kind of people, we will have a better society altogether.”
Cover image of Hasan Pervej Ahmed's video