Calgary police charge man over threat to spread COVID-19 to Indigenous people
Police also investigating threat made against Chinese restaurant in the city
Calgary police say they have charged a man over a social media post threatening to deliberately spread COVID-19 among Indigenous communities.
The charge centres around a message posted to an "Indigenous social media group threatening to try to intentionally spread COVID-19 to Indigenous people," police said in a release.
The post was reported to Calgary police on Sunday and, after working with the Tsuut'ina Nation Police Service and Blood Tribe Police Service, a man was charged with uttering threats.
"This is a time when we should all be coming together to encourage one another and keep everyone safe," Const. Craig Collins, hate crimes co-ordinator with the Calgary Police Service, said in a release.
"It is unacceptable that some members of our community are weaponizing this pandemic to make others feel even more vulnerable than everyone already does. We won't ignore it."
Police noted in the release that threats can be prosecuted as hate-motivated crimes if it's determined the actions were "motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on one of nine personal characteristics of the victim."
"The hate motivation is considered by the courts after a person is found guilty of the charges," the release said. "If the judge decides during sentencing that hate was a motivation for the crime, it is an aggravating factor that adds to the convicted person's sentence."
Separate threat against Chinese restaurant
In a separate incident, police said they're also investigating an anonymous threat made against a Chinese restaurant in Calgary, which they believe was motivated by "current events."
The threat was received March 14 and police say they've identified a suspect, but no charges have been laid and the investigation continues.
"While making a threat toward a stranger may not seem like a big deal to some, it leaves victims shaken and worried that someone is actually out to get them," Collins said.
"When people are already dealing with the stress of COVID-19, adding more fears and stress can do very real damage to their mental and emotional health. It's unacceptable."