A man allegedly performed a Nazi salute before assaulting a woman on a Toronto subway platform over the weekend and police say they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Toronto police said in a news release that on Saturday around 12:30 p.m., a woman was sitting on a bench on the platform at Lawrence Station.
Officers said a man started speaking to the woman before he assaulted her. Police said a passerby then intervened and the man fled the area.
Sarah Gillis told Global News she was the alleged victim in the incident.
She said as she was sitting on the platform, a man came up to her and asked, “Are you a Jew?” twice, to which she didn’t respond.
“He then did a Nazi salute and asked me if I knew what it meant,” Gillis said.
“So I said to him, ‘Have a nice day.’ That’s when he said, ‘You are a Jew,’ and he came towards me.”
Gillis said the man then grabbed her and placed her in a headlock-like position before another man intervened and pulled the suspect off, who subsequently bumped into a pole.
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Gillis said the suspect then got onto a subway train and fled the area.
Police released images of the suspect on Saturday and announced that an arrest was made one day later.
Gillis, who said she isn’t Jewish, posted about the incident on Reddit prior to the man’s arrest to make people aware of what transpired.
“I became a target even though I was not Jewish and no one should be afraid of being assaulted when they leave their home,” she told Global News.
“I definitely think this man is a danger to the Jewish community.”
A police spokesperson told Global News the suspect who was arrested and charged is the same man who was arrested in connection with two anti-Semitic assaults in Toronto earlier this summer.
“We thank Toronto Police for their diligence in re-apprehending the accused, but the revolving door bail system must end,” said Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada.
“There is a strong public interest in denying bail to someone who repeatedly engages in unprovoked hate-motivated assaults.”
Michael Park, 32, of no fixed address, has been charged with assault and failing to comply with a release order in connection with Saturday’s incident.