Hate crime unit now investigating racial slur incident

The Hamilton police hate crime unit is now investigating an incident where three people allegedly screamed racial slurs at a group of black children downtown in July.

3 people allegedly called black children 'n--gers,' said they would 'rape their sisters'

McMaster University students Danielle Wong and Brett Klassen say they witnessed what they believed to be a hate crime take place in McLaren Park in late July. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The Hamilton police hate crime unit is now investigating an incident where three people allegedly screamed racial slurs at a group of black children downtown in July.

Two people witnessed the incident and tried to intervene, and say they were assaulted.

Danielle Wong and Brett Klassen said at the time, that the responding officers shrugged off their requests to have what happened investigated as a hate crime.

On Friday, Hamilton police Const. Asuf Khokhar told CBC News that the service's hate crime unit is now looking into it.

"The report from the incident has been forwarded to the Hate Crime Unit for a review," he said in an email.

Khokhar couldn't immediately answer further questions about the case, saying the investigator on the case is away and will return next week.

'Racism and rape culture should be taken seriously'

Wong told CBC News that an officer called and notified her that the case had been assigned to the hate crime unit.

"I'm glad that it's now being looked at within the purview of a hate crime," she said.

"I think this should have happened in our initial encounter with police, but I hope that the reassignment of the incident to that unit now at least signals that racism and rape culture should be taken seriously."

The incident happened late last month, when Wong and Klassen were near McLaren Park on John Street North.

Wong says they saw two shirtless men, one of whom seemed intoxicated, and a woman who also seemed intoxicated, yelling racial slurs at a group of black children, part of a Somali family.

The three people, who were white, "were yelling things like, 'All you Muslims get out of the country,' and 'We're going to rape your sisters,'" Klassen told CBC News in a previous interview.

Wong says the trio also kept calling them "the n-word."

1 man arrested

The two say they approached the group and asked them to stop, and things escalated into an assault.

Hamilton police did ask Wong and Klassen if they wanted to press charges for assault, and they declined.

"The officer re-assigned to our assault case was respectful," Klassen tweeted Friday. "He outlined everything that could happen if we pressed charges."

Klassen also said the two decided not to press charges "in the interest of our own safety."

Staff Sgt. Maggie Schoen previously told CBC News that an 18-year-old man been arrested after "the initial call for service" and that he was charged with "failing to comply with his probation order." 

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Hamilton home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.