Police launch hate crimes probe into LS posters

by | Mar 27, 2019 | Headlines, Lakeshore, News

Clement Goh and Naila Tahir, Senior Reporters

Toronto Police launched an investigation into racist messages found on posters at Lakeshore’s multi-faith prayer room.

The posters were scribbled with anti-Muslim messages. Religious terms were crossed out in blue marker and replaced with negative connotations.

Public Relations student Fariha Shahid was one of several students who noticed the vandalized posters on the bulletins inside the room on March 20.

She later went on Twitter to report the incident, saying she was in “absolute disbelief and disgust at how this could happen” in a religious space.

Posters at Lakeshore Campus’ multi-faith prayer room were scribbled with racist messages. One was reportedly spotted by Public Relations student Fariha Shahid on March 20. (Clement Goh)

The college responded to Shahid and passed the information along to Toronto Police. Officers arrived at the lower floors of H building to collect evidence and review CCTV footage. Humber’s campus security spoke with police to offer any help.

“At the time of the report, there was no suspects or witnesses,” said Const. Caroline De Kloet, Media Relations Officer for Toronto Police.

“We’d seize the evidence, and depending on what it is, it could be fingerprinted,” she said. “Officers would also check for any video surveillance, any information from security.”

De Kloet sai such crimes are unpredictable and measures to prevent them are limited.

“That’s kind of difficult to say because something like this can happen at any time. I can’t speculate,” she said. “If somebody does find a poster somewhere, the best thing is not to touch it and contact the security or campus police who will then contact Toronto Police.”

The incident was also reported internally to Humber’s Centre for Human Rights and Equity. The college’s North campus was also contacted to see if its posters were being vandalized. Staff walked through the halls and found nothing.

“That’s a bit of a painstaking process, so that’s still ongoing,” said Rob Kilfoyle, Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management at Humber.

Kilfoyle said students who spotted the posters were advised on available counseling services.

Rob Kilfoyle, Public Safety and Emergency Management Director at Humber College, says the college’s security team is helping Toronto Police in its investigation. (Serge Halytsky)

The incident also happened during Humber’s International Day to Stop Racism, where the college stood on its efforts to end discrimination.

“We do take this very seriously and at Humber College, we’re all about inclusion and being respectful and ensuring people feel safe on campus,” Kilfoyle said. “So when something like this happens, it affects us all.”

Mississauga Imam Sadiq Ahmed said he felt hurt when he looked at the poster posted on the Twitter message.

Ahmed, who a representative for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Canada (AMJ), said it’s important to help people think beyond misconceptions.

“We are all one people, above religion, race, creed, culture, we are all humans and we are family as such,” Sadiq said.

He believes the best source of information comes from directly speaking to followers and reaching an understanding.

“Instead of getting stuff from social media, getting it online or from what we hear from media, why not go to Muslims and talk to them and they can answer any questions,” he said.