Edmonton police are asking the public to be on the lookout for whomever is behind the ongoing distribution of anti-Islamic hate literature around the city.
“The EPS is aware of the flyers being distributed in mailboxes and the EPS Hate Crimes Detail continues to investigate,” Acting Supt. Dan Jones, of the EPS Investigative Support Branch, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re really hoping for that break or a tip from somebody in the community that gets a picture of one of these individuals or a licence plate or is able to engage the individual and provide a very definitive description,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said on Tuesday.
Police said the most recent complaint about the flyers saw officers dispatched to the northeast part of the city after anti-Islamic posters were left in mailboxes in the community of Evansdale Saturday morning. They said that incident marked the fourth such complaint about anti-Muslim literature being placed in mailboxes over the past few weeks.
Police are also investigating another poster campaign that targeted Sikhs at the University of Alberta in September.
“What’s really new about this today is that we’ve been at lengthy consult with our Crown prosecutors and the most recent poster – which we’re not going to discuss the content of… certainly meets the threshold for criminal prosecution,” Pattison said, adding police weren’t ruling out the possibility of pressing charges in the other cases.
Charges could include uttering threats or hate crimes because the posters could incite violence.
The latest poster shows a picture of a man raping a young girl. A Muslim mother named Heather, who lives in Evansdale, said she was shocked to find the paper in her mailbox.
“It hits you like a ton of bricks, really,” she said. “The picture is just so graphic.”
Heather said she was worried about her family’s safety and asked Global News not to use her full name.
“It crossed the line. You look at it and you know it’s dangerous,” she said. “It’s getting more threatening is how it feels.”
Aurangzeb Qureshi, with the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, said Edmontonians of all stripes are uniting against the hateful posters.
“There is no place for this type of discrimination,” Qureshi said. “It just marginalizes people and has the potential to create violent acts.”
He was happy to learn police are looking to press charges in connection with the incidents.
“It’s a great first step. It’s a development that we’ve been waiting for.”
Watch below: Shallima Maharaj filed this report on Oct. 16, 2016 after an anti-Muslim flyer showed up in north Edmonton.
“We don’t take these incidents lightly,” Jones said. “Those responsible for these acrimonious actions will be held to account and could face criminal charges.
“Comments and publications that insult, target or marginalize one community over another, cause hurt, mistrust and weaken our entire society.”
Police said they continue to meet with community stakeholders, including Edmonton’s Muslim community, about the problem.
Watch below: Fletcher Kent filed this report on the seemingly growing amount of hate literature appearing in Edmonton on Oct. 6, 2016 after an anti-Muslim flyer appeared in several Mill Woods mailboxes.
“I want to be clear, especially for those who may be new to our city: these incidents are not indicative of the welcoming and diverse community that Edmonton has become,” Jones added. “They are divisive, reckless and are being actively investigated by the EPS.”
If Edmontonians notice someone distributing hateful material, police are asking them to make “detailed observations” of the suspects and report what they saw to police right away.
Pattison said it is believed most flyers are being distributed in the morning.
The EPS’ Hate Crimes Detail can be contacted directly on the Hate Crimes Detail Hotline number at 780-421-3489.
Police can also be contacted at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. For those wanting to anonymously submit a tip, they can do so by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online.
-With files from Sarah Kraus.