UPDATED: Guelph police announced on Wednesday that they have identified and spoken with the man accused
A Guelph, Ont., woman says her emotions have ranged from sad to angry since anti-Asian slurs were randomly hurled at her in the city’s south end on Sunday afternoon.
While walking her dog outside her apartment complex near Clair Road and Gordon Street, she says a man walked up to her and began screaming at her.
“The first thing he said to me was, ‘This is the GTA, you don’t belong here. Go back to your home country,'” the woman said.
Aaliyah, whose last name Global News has agreed not to publish, was born and raised in Guelph and is of Filipino origin.
The 25-year-old microbiologist said she has faced ignorance before, but never anything that comes close to what she endured on Sunday.
“Something so full of hate and disgust and anger,” she said.
The verbal ambush went on for at least five minutes, Aaliyah said, but added that it felt like forever.
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She said it included a variety of anti-Asian slurs along with swearing and the middle finger being pointed at her.
“He called me a ‘chink’ and that I don’t belong here and he said ‘Asians are the reason for coronavirus,'” she said. “You could really hear the hate and the anger in his voice.”
Aaliyah said she did not engage and tried to ignore the man while walking away, but he was relentless.
At one point, she said the man, who she described as Middle Eastern with a French accent, described himself as a “Muslim terrorist” but he added that she was worse than him.
She said that the fact that the attack came from another minority left her really confused.
“If you have experienced this kind of hate and racism before, why are you perpetuating it on someone else,” Aaliyah said. “You know how that feels, you know that inferior feeling, why are you spreading that hate?”
It also bothered her that something like this would happen in broad daylight and in Guelph of all places.
“You see it on the news and you think it’s not going to happen to me here, but it did,” she said. “You can never underestimate racism. It’s not going to pick a country, it’s going to be everywhere.”
The attack came to an end when another woman walked up and intervened as the man walked away. Aaliyah said she just began to cry as the woman tried to check on her.
She didn’t get the Good Samaritan’s contact information but Aaliyah said she wants her to know that she is so grateful.
“Thank you so much for recognizing and seeing what had happened was not okay and standing by me and making sure my safety was prioritized because I feel like most people in that situation would walk past or turn around,” she said.
Guelph police confirmed Aaliyah’s account on Monday in a news release and said they are investigating the incident.
Aaliyah said she was hesitant to call the police and tell her story at first because she feared she may be labelled as overreacting or being too sensitive.
But she felt it is important to share this experience so the community can stand in solidarity against racism.
“It could be really scary for people to speak out against this because of the backlash they might get,” she said. “I think it’s important to have that understanding and empathy from the community so that way we can speak out against it and feel supported.”
Guelph police say the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact them at 519-824-1212 ext. 7215.
Anonymous tips can be left with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.