Concerns raised over Edmonton Police Service’s response to racist and hateful message – Edmonton |

Members of the Canadian Somali Cultural Society of Edmonton were preparing for a Canada Day event Thursday night when a voicemail left them on edge.

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President Jibril Ibrahim said a man called around 6:15 p.m. He used a real traceable number. The man in the 15-second voicemail began by saying, “Hello, I was wondering if Somalis were having Canada Day celebrations tomorrow?” The man then proceeded to make racist and hateful comments.

“It’s not right, it’s not acceptable at all,” Ibrahim said.

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He said the organization contacted police through outreach emails, but also went a step further and called 911. The organization also requested security support for the Canada Day celebrations. As of Tuesday morning, Ibrahim said no police officers had been seen or heard after the call from him.

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“We don’t want anyone to intimidate us, so we decided to go ahead (with the event). We were expecting 300 people, only about 100 people showed up because maybe they were afraid something might happen. So it’s not good to have that kind of feeling.

“We were celebrating Canada Day because we’re Canadians, right? Imagine that, going to an event and thinking in the back of your head, ‘What’s going to happen?’”

Ibrahim said they kept the doors closed to monitor who was coming in. He said he feels the police are not taking his complaint seriously.

“They are not taking any meaningful action to end the hate in the city. We shouldn’t feel this way.”

University of Alberta criminology professor Temitope Oriola said the voicemail that was left does not have a direct threat, but should be seen in the context of the vulnerabilities facing the Somali community in Edmonton.

There have been several hate-motivated attacks on Muslim women wearing hijabs in the city in recent months.

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“Several Muslim Somali women wearing hijab have been attacked on the streets of Edmonton while carrying out their legal duties,” Oriola said. “These were unprovoked attacks and so you can understand the concern of this community when they received that type of voicemail.

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“People don’t report hate mail for fun. They don’t do these messages because they want to. Many times it is the result of a very serious and dire situation and therefore it is important that as a society we respond as quickly as possible.”

Oriola said he believes police didn’t think this was a serious threat and didn’t make this report a priority.

“Police shouldn’t ignore those kinds of messages. The police shouldn’t ignore those kinds of calls.”

After Global News contacted the Edmonton Police Service, the inspector in charge of the downtown division connected with Ibrahim.

In a statement, the police said that the EPS office received a call on the night of June 30.

“The call was evaluated and placed in a response queue which unfortunately was not considered until later in the evening, at which point, due to the late hour, it was deferred. On July 2, for reasons yet to be determined, the call went unanswered,” police said.

Other EPS employees only learned of the original complaint after receiving an email from Mr. Ibrahim to various government, police and other contacts.

“While policing a large metropolitan center requires prioritization of many calls for service, particularly on holidays and major events, we recognize that this delayed response was neither acceptable nor helpful.

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Since becoming aware of this error, the inspector in charge of the central division has personally connected with Mr. Ibrahim, offered an apology and explanation on behalf of the EPS, and has identified the next steps in the investigation of this fact.” .

Ibrahim said that he appreciates the call, but it is not enough and we have to work.

“What is going to be done to prevent this from happening again?” he said. “This could have been worse and should not have been taken lightly.”

The society also reached out to the province to ask the government to do something meaningful to stop hate speech. Ibrahim said they had not received a response either.

In an email to Global News, the province said that “the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General received a voicemail about the incident from the Canadian Somali Cultural Society of Edmonton over the long weekend and are currently working to respond to it. the organization”.

“All Albertans deserve to feel safe and secure in their communities, no matter where they are from or how they worship,” the statement read. “All threatening behaviour, including suspected hate crimes and incidents, should be reported to local police services.

“Alberta takes hate crimes and incidents very seriously and has actively worked to eliminate acts of hate while supporting those who are targeted. The Hate Crimes Coordination Unit was established earlier in the year to help organize the many police resources and supports we offer across the province. This includes initiatives such as the Alberta Safety Infrastructure Program, which provides security improvement grants and training for organizations targeted by hate crimes, as well as Hate Crime Community Liaisons, who are beginning to work directly with communities. cultures most affected by hatred and prejudice. -Motivated crimes. The links will make recommendations to the government on how to better prevent hate crimes and support victims.”

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