Hamilton police investigate after video appears to show woman calling baby the N-word
WARNING: this story contains offensive language
Warning, this story contains offensive language.
Hamilton police's hate crimes unit is investigating after video appears to show a woman calling a six-month-old boy the N-word during a neighbourhood argument.
A nine-second video posted by Alexis Hebert to Facebook on Monday appears to show the incident in Waterdown involving her neighbour.
At the time, Hebert says, she was holding her son Kasai Elliston, whose father is Black.
The exchange has since garnered lots of attention online.
Hebert, 22, says her mother and grandmother were outside her home visiting with masks on when the neighbour started taking pictures of her grandmother's vehicle and threatening to report them to local bylaw officers for breaking COVID-19 rules.
The province allows gatherings of up to five people, even if they aren't in the same household, so long as they distance.
While the neighbour was photographing the grandmother's car, Hebert questioned what she was doing, which triggered an argument that led to the exchange involving derogatory words, according to Hebert.
WATCH | Woman's exchange with the mother and her baby (CBC has bleeped out the offensive language):
Hebert says she was holding her son while recording.
"It was just crazy. I was not expecting that at all ... it's infuriating to think about it," Hebert said in an interview Wednesday morning.
"My mom doesn't feel safe, my grandmother doesn't feel safe."
She said the neighbour later tried to apologize while also denying the use of a racial slur.
Hebert said she called police, but the officers who attended couldn't do anything but label the incident as harassment.
On Wednesday morning, police confirmed the hate crimes unit was involved, but didn't provide any more details.
Hebert said she plans to press charges.
"If we stand in the face of racists and continue to do nothing, we are perpetuating that ideology," she said.
"We want an apology."
She said police told her they would meet with her Wednesday to discuss the incident. Hebert said police told her they'd talk to the neighbour.
Councillor says police should be involved
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge saw the video and issued a statement Monday, calling the incident "beyond disgusting and abhorrent," and encouraging people to report racist acts and attacks to police.
"It's horrific, it's mind-boggling, it makes me angry," Partridge said in an interview Wednesday morning.
She said she will be speaking with Hebert and police.
"There have been others in the community that have reached out to me over the past year when they've had incidents happen to them," said Partridge. "I hear about moms and dads talking about the fear they have of their teenagers, when they're of a different colour, just being out at night, just going to the park with their friends.
"That's just horrible, that anybody should have to be concerned about that."
She also has questions about the neighbour in the video.
"Who yells at a baby and calls them a racist name? ... Who speaks to people like that?" she said.
"If there's something going on in that person's life, they need to get help."
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.