The incident in part of the city’s “vibrant Jewish community” is being treated as a hate crime by police.
By Faygie Holt, JNS
Toronto Police Service has identified a person of interest in what they are calling a “suspected hate-motivated assault.”
According to officials, the incident occurred on March 12 when a man inside a store made anti-Semitic slurs.
Police reported that “the man stepped outside with a witness when disagreement became heated. Outside, the man continued to make offensive comments. The victim intervened and challenged the suspect. He then punched the victim in the face.”
The release went on to say, “After consultation with the service’s specialized Hate Crimes Unit, the assault is being treated as a suspected hate crime. This is an active investigation, and divisional officers will continue to patrol the area as part of their daily duties.”
The police announcement on March 16 comes days after a community alert was issued on Saturday night by Canadian human-rights advocate Avi Benlolo, who reported the incident at the bakery, near Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue in Toronto, and that “Jewish patrons were verbally attacked” by a man who uttered “disturbing anti-Semitic epithets and swear words.”
According to Avital Borisovsky, associate director of communications for Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, the bakery is located in a “vibrant Jewish community.”
On Facebook, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center posted: “We are disgusted by this incident and pleased that police have since identified a person of interest and are treating this incident as a suspected hate crime.”
Borisovsky noted that the most recent Toronto Police Service hate crimes statistics are from 2019 and show that the Jewish community remains the most victimized group. In 2019, 32 percent of the 139 hate crimes in Toronto targeted the Jewish community, even though the community accounts for 4 percent of the city’s population.