Police have laid charges following a violent attack investigators are calling a “racially motivated hate crime” against a girl.
According to police, two girls under the age of 16 were walking along the river pathway at Prince’s Island Park on Sunday afternoon when a woman confronted them and began directing “racially motivated slurs” at them.
Police said they tried to walk away but the suspect pushed one of them to the ground, tore off her hijab, punched her in the face and kicked her in the stomach.
Police said two men believed to be with the suspect stopped the attack. The girl called 911. The second girl was not physically hurt.
With the help of the HAWCS police helicopter, officers arrested the suspect a short while later.
Bridgette Severite, 28, has been charged with common assault, mischief and causing a disturbance in public.
“At this time, this incident appears to have occurred in isolation from weekend protests,” police said in a news release.
“To the young women who had to experience this, no one should be targeted because of their faith,” police wrote in a statement released Sunday night.
“We hope you continue to see how strong you are.”
Police are now looking for a good Samaritan who stayed with the victims and may have witnessed the assault. They are also asking any other witnesses to come forward, along with anyone who may have captured the attack on video.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 403-266-1234 or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.
Calgary mayor, councillors speak out after attack
Calgary politicians are taking a stand against the weekend assault.
On Monday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in a tweet there is “no room for hate here.”
“Everyone is welcome and should feel safe on every street,” Nenshi added. “Our hearts are with the victims.
“Know that in this community, you are surrounded by love.”
“We all have a responsibility to stand together and fight racism,” Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell said in a tweet. “Talk with your friends, family, and co-workers on what you can do to help.”
“It takes both courage and vulnerability to see and confront the racism in ourselves and others. It’s bloody uncomfortable. For our society to be truly anti-racist we need to be brave, vulnerable and compassionate. But right now we need to draw a line and say no. Not here. Not ever.”
Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek took to Twitter to urge Calgarians to “wake up and listen to people telling you we must speak out against racism.”
“This is awful. It is not who we are. This must stop.”
Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison said in a tweet it was “disgusting that anyone condone these despicable actions, let alone commit them.”
“Racism and Islamophobia aren’t abstract concepts. Today’s incident happened in broad daylight.”
“People must be treated equal and with respect,” Davison added. “This must not be allowed to continue.”