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Guelph police explain why no charge laid in racial slurs incident

'Racist comments on their own are not illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada'
Guelph Police Stock 2016
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NEWS RELEASE

GUELPH POLICE SERVICE

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There have been some questions raised by the community why charges were not laid against a male who yelled racial slurs at a Guelph female on the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon the victim, who is Asian, reported she was walking her dog on Goodwin Drive when an irate male approached her. The male yelled racist slurs at the female and blamed Asians for COVID-19.

Acting on information from the public, the male was identified and officers spoke with him Tuesday evening. A 21-year-old Guelph male was warned about his behaviour and cautioned he could face criminal harassment charges if the behaviour continued.

While racist comments are seen as an aggravating factor when combined with criminal activity, such as making death threats, racist comments on their own are not illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada. There are two sections of the code specifically dealing with hate. Section 319 (1) addresses the public incitement of hatred where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, while Section 319 (2) addresses wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group.

The facts of Sunday’s incident have been carefully reviewed and determined not to meet the criteria for a charge to be laid under either of those sections.

The Guelph Police Service acknowledges and understands the hurt such actions cause to members of the community. We encourage those who believe they have been the victims of a hate-motivated crime to call 519-824-1212 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 so all appropriate investigative steps can be taken.

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