Centretown ice cream shop closes after worker reports assault on way to work
Employee said 2 men hurled racial slurs before shoving them to the ground
The owner of a downtown Ottawa ice cream shop decided to close its doors again this weekend after an employee said they were assaulted on their way to work.
The employee said they left their home in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood across the Rideau Canal from downtown early Friday morning on their way to work at Moo Shu Ice Cream & Kitchen on Bank Street.
But only a short distance from their home, the employee — whom CBC is not naming because of concerns for their safety — said they were approached by two men who hurled racial and other slurs and harassed them for wearing a mask.
"They were yelling racially charged slurs at me and asking me if the reason that I had my mask on was because I was an anti-Asian slur," they said.
"Essentially [they were] treating me like an Asian person who was going to give other people COVID just for just existing."
The employee said the verbal harassment continued before they were shoved to the ground and the two men ran away.
Immediately after the assault, the employee said they called the Ottawa police hate crime unit, which the service has been often sharing during the ongoing protest in the shop's neighbourhood.
They hung up after trying for 15 minutes to get through and said they plan to file a police report through a community officer.
"I feel really angry that people feel emboldened to assault somebody for simply wearing a mask," the employee said. "I feel angry that, you know, the most vulnerable members of our community right now are faced with all these different assaults."
As of Sunday morning, Ottawa police said its hate-motivated crime hotline had received more than 200 calls.
Protest scary, disruptive, says owner
Moo Shu's owner Liz Mok said she was shocked by the assault. She decided to close up shop early Friday evening and stay closed for a second straight weekend after hearing concerns from other employees.
"We've operated in Centretown for six years now, we've seen lots of protests and demonstrations and it's never been disruptive," Mok said.
"I don't think that we thought it was going to feel as scary or as disruptive as [it's been] and then we also didn't anticipate it to last so long."
I don't think that we thought it was going to feel as scary or as disruptive as [it's been] and then we also didn't anticipate it to last so long.- Liz Mok, owner of Moo Shu Ice Cream and Kitchen
After posting the reason for closing on social media Friday, Mok said there were many messages of support — along with a stream of messages accusing the business of lying for attention, something she found silly.
"I don't think anybody would want to go through that or put themselves through this type of scrutiny … I don't know what there is to gain from that," Mok said.
Mok plans to reopen Wednesday, but hopes the time will soon come when they can go back to selling ice cream and not have to be "hypervigilant about, like, being yelled at or being called out."
Based on the accounts we've heard from our neighbours, this behaviour is not an isolated incident. It's taken the day for us to let it sink how not OK we are. Please pardon the last minute change, and we're sorry if you braved a trek to support us to find us unexpectedly closed.—@MooShuIceCream