Minor turns himself in after Jewish men attacked in Montreal
A minor accused of attacking two Hasidic men in Montreal last January has turned himself in to police one day after surveillance photos of the suspect were released publicly.
Montreal police (SPVM) said in a news release that the youth appeared in court Thursday and was released with conditions until his next court date on May 5.
"The SPVM takes this opportunity to remind people of the importance of reporting a hate crime. Under the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, a crime is considered hateful when it is motivated or suspected of being motivated by hatred of race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression or any other similar factor," police said in the release.
On Wednesday, police released video and photo surveillance footage showing one of two alleged assaults on members of the Hasidic Jewish community in the city's Outremont borough. In a rare move, the police service decided to release the images showing the suspect's face on an "exceptional" basis, even though they suspected he might have been a minor. Those images have now been removed since an arrest has been made.
According to police, the same suspect was involved in both incidents on Jan. 20, which happened less than an hour apart.
Police said the first incident happened around 9:50 p.m. near the corner of Van Horne and Bloomfield avenues. The suspect insulted a man, "pushing him violently and throwing him to the ground," they said in a press release.
The suspect fled the scene and joined a group of people around the same age as him on Van Horne Avenue.
Video footage of the alleged assault shows an individual walking on the sidewalk, running over a snowbank, and pushing someone with two hands. The victim falls to the ground in the middle of the street, then gets up and collects his hat before walking away.
Around 10:25 p.m., near the corner of Bernard and Outremont avenues, a second victim suffered a "violent kick in the lower back" which threw him to the ground, according to police.
Police said the suspect fled north on Wiseman Avenue to join another group of people.
Jean-Pierre Brabant, a spokesperson for Montreal police, said the footage that they have, which did not indicate evidence of a prior altercation, leads investigators to believe that the alleged assault was hate-motivated.
"It was just a person walking, doing his own thing and then he was approached. And that's the reason that we have reason to believe that it was a hate crime," Brabant said in an interview with CTV News.
Police reminded the public that they can report hate crimes by calling 911 or by filling out a form on the police service's website.
The Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada said the alleged assaults highlight the prevalence of antisemitism in Outremont, recalling the Bagg Street Shul vandalism earlier in April when the synagogue was spray painted with swastikas.
"Hasidic Jews are a significant part of Montreal’s Jewish community and deserve to live free from the threat of hate and violence," said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, in a news release on Thursday following the arrest.
"We thank the SPVM for its determination in identifying this individual. We expect the judicial system to ensure the perpetrator is charged under existing hate crime laws. Violence against religious minorities, including those who are visibly Jewish, is never acceptable."
The organization would like Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and other city councillors to attend the April 26 Israel Day rally in solidarity with the city's Jewish community.
With files from CTV News Montreal's Olivia O'Malley