Toronto’s Jewish community shaken after an alleged attack on teens
The Jewish community in Toronto is reeling after an alleged assault on a group of Jewish teenagers in the city’s north end. One of the alleged victims has said he is not afraid or discouraged.
“On Sunday, Nov. 11th, shortly after 8 p.m., four young men were walking in this area near Bathurst and Lawrence,” said Police Chief Mark Saunders, speaking Tuesday from the scene of the crime. “The Toronto Police Service has now determined that this was, in fact, a hate crime.”
The boy said he was beaten and brought to the ground in the incident. He also said that the attackers took his glasses and broke them. The CBC will not be naming the alleged victim to protect his identity seeing as he is underage.
He claims he was one of the 17-year-old boys who was targeted by another group of teenagers who started making fun of them for wearing yarmulkes in the Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue area.
The boy said he’s from Santa Monica, California and that he came to Canada to study to become a rabbi. He told CBC Toronto that he hasn’t experienced like what happened on the 11th before.
“It was a very big shock to me,” he said. “When I came to Canada, I heard that Canada was not anything like that, especially the city of Toronto.”
“Jews went through this all our entire history. That’s what we’ve gone through. And we’re here still to talk about it,” he added. “I’m not afraid, so I think people should just know that.”
Officers are investigating the incident as a hate crime, and have arrested a 17-year-old boy. Two of the four Jewish teens were beaten, and one of them was robbed, says police.
Police also say they’re looking for nine others who allegedly instigated the offensive attack.
Police Chief Mark Saunders took to Twitter on Tuesday with a video statement to address the alleged assault.
“I want to reassure the public that we will un-turn every stone to locate and apprehend every person that is a suspect to this investigation,” Saunders said.
“A hate crime is one that we will never normalize in this city, and I want to reassure the public that we would do anything and everything to conclude this investigation.”
Although the Jewish community is quite shaken up, they still express their relief that the incident wasn’t any worse.
“They knew how to fend them off and wave down some support and get someone to help them out,” said Rabbi Mendy Lieberman, who is a teacher at Yeshivas Lubavitch Toronto.
“Our message is that obviously we grow from these situations and we only try to increase the message of love, the message of light and positivity and peace.”
The principal of general studies of Eitz Chaim Schools’ Patricia Campus, Barbara Ouanounou, said she felt the alleged attack on a personal level. She also added that her parents were Holocaust survivors.
“No matter what, we have all the right to be who we are and free to practice our religion,” she said. “No one could take that away from us.”