Guelph police say they have spoken with the man who allegedly berated a woman with anti-Asian slurs in the city’s south end on Sunday afternoon.
In a news release on Wednesday, police said officers identified the man, warned him about his behaviour and told him he could face criminal harassment charges if it happens again.
The 25-year-old woman who was attacked has been speaking with Global News and says she is a bit disappointed with the outcome.
“I think what frustrates me the most is that he can’t get charged until it happens again,” Aaliyah said. Global News has agreed not to publish her last name out of concern for safety. “The whole point of me speaking out about this and trying to raise awareness is so that this doesn’t happen again.”
Aaliyah says she was walking her dog outside her apartment complex near Clair Road and Gordon Street on March 28 when a man walked up and began screaming at her.
The verbal ambush lasted about five minutes and included racist insults and blaming Asians for COVID-19.
Aaliyah, who was born and raised in Guelph and is of Filipino origins, said the attack ended when another woman intervened and the man walked away.
She said while driving on Tuesday evening, she spotted the man again and they made eye contact before he gave her the middle finger. Aaliyah called the police immediately and gave them a description.
Later in the day, police called her to say the man has been warned and told not to speak with her and not to approach her.
“But he’s going to encounter other Asian people and they may not feel comfortable speaking about it. That’s what I’m sad about,” she said.
Avvy Go, the director of the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic in Toronto, told Global News that racist slurs and comments against Asian Canadians like what Aaliyah went through often have no consequence.
She explained that there would usually have to be a threat made or physical violence before police will make an arrest.
Go added that she wouldn’t feel comfortable with arresting everyone who makes a racist comment. Instead, she says, there needs to be more education on the subject and supports for programs that tackle anti-Asian hate.
“It needs to start in the schools and workplaces and by government,” she said. “Younger people tend to have a more lasting impact after experiencing this. I can understand why because I think they don’t expect to be treated this way.”
Go said it takes time to heal from a racist attack and victims lean on their family, peers and community. Some people even need counselling, she said.
Go also applauded the bystander for coming to Aaliyah’s side and standing with her.
“I think that helps start Aaliyah on the journey to recovery,” she said. “That act of kindness shows even though there are racist people out there, there are also people who care. I think that’s a very important part.”