Concerns about Edmonton Police Service’s response to racist, hateful messages – Edmonton

Members of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton were preparing for a Canada Day event Thursday night when a voicemail threw them up.

President Jibril Ibrahim said a man called around 6:15 p.m. He used a real traceable number. The man on the 15-second voicemail began by saying, “Hi, I was wondering if Somalis will be celebrating Canada Day celebrations tomorrow?” The man then proceeded to make racist and hateful comments.

“That’s not right, that’s not acceptable at all,” Ibrahim said.

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He said the organization reached out to police through outreach emails but went a step further and called 911. The organization also requested security support for Canada Day celebrations. On Tuesday morning, Ibrahim said they did not see or hear a police officer after their call.

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“We don’t want to be intimidated by anyone, so we decided to go ahead (with the event). We expected 300 people – only about 100 people came because maybe they were afraid something might happen. So it’s not good to have that feeling.

“We celebrated Canada Day because we’re Canadian, right? Imagine going to an event and thinking in the back of your mind, “What’s going to happen?”

Ibrahim said they kept the doors locked to monitor who came in. He said he felt the police weren’t taking her complaint seriously.

“They are not taking any meaningful action to curb hatred in the city. We shouldn’t feel that way.”

Temitope Oriola, a professor of criminology at the University of Alberta, said the voicemail left behind does not pose a direct threat but needs to be viewed in the context of the vulnerabilities faced by Edmonton’s Somali community.

In recent months there have been several hate-motivated attacks on Muslim women wearing hijabs in the city.

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“Several Muslim hijab-wearing Somali women have been attacked on the streets of Edmonton while going about their lawful duties,” Oriola said. “These were unprovoked attacks, so you can understand the concern of this community when they received this type of voice message.

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“People don’t report hate speech for fun. They don’t do these messages because they want to. It is often the result of a very serious and egregious situation and it is therefore important that we as a society respond as quickly as possible.”

Oriola said he believes the police did not consider this to be a serious threat and did not make this report a priority.

“The police should not ignore such news. The police should not ignore such calls.”

After Global News contacted the Edmonton Police Service, the inspector in charge of the downtown department contacted Ibrahim.

In a statement, police said EPS Dispatch received a call on the night of June 30.

“The call was evaluated and placed in a queue for an answer which unfortunately was not considered until later in the evening and was postponed due to the late hour. On July 2, the call was not answered for reasons that have not yet been clarified,” the police said.

Other EPS employees only became aware of the original complaint after receiving an email from Mr. Ibrahim to various government, police and other contacts.

“While monitoring a large metropolitan area requires prioritizing many service calls, particularly around holidays and major events, we recognize that this delayed response was not acceptable or helpful.

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Since becoming aware of this error, the inspector in charge of the downtown department has personally contacted Mr. Ibrahim, offered an apology and explanation on behalf of the EPS, and determined the next steps in investigating this incident.”

Ibrahim said he welcomed the call but it wasn’t enough and work needed to be done.

“What is being done to prevent this from happening again?” he said. “This could have been worse and should not be taken lightly.”

The society also reached out to the province, asking the government to do something meaningful to stop hateful acts. Ibrahim said they received no reply either.

In an email to Global News, the province said: “The Department of Justice and the Attorney General received a voicemail about the incident from the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton over the long weekend and are currently working to respond to the organization.”

“All Albertans deserve to feel safe and secure in their communities, regardless of where they come from or how they pray,” the statement said. “All threatening behavior, including suspected hate crimes and incidents, should be reported to local police services.

“Alberta takes hate crimes and incidents very seriously and has actively worked to eliminate hateful acts while supporting those who are targeted. The Hate Crimes Coordination Unit was established earlier this year to help organize the many resources and law enforcement support we offer across the province. These include initiatives such as the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program, which provides grants for security improvements and training for organizations targeted by hate crimes, and the Hate Crime Liaison Officers, which are beginning to work directly with the cultural communities most affected by hate and prejudice are -motivated crimes. The liaisons will make recommendations to the government on how to better prevent hate crimes and support victims.”

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https://globalnews.ca/news/8968873/edmonton-polices-response-hateful-message-somali-canadians/ Concerns about Edmonton Police Service’s response to racist, hateful messages – Edmonton

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