Monday June 7, 2021 | LONDON, ONTARIO [Updated June 8 and June 10, 2021]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Four people killed on Sunday evening in London Ontario were likely targeted for being Muslim, say police.
The family was struck and killed by a driver in a vehicle in the city’s northwest yesterday evening. Emergency crews were called to an intersection where it happened. The driver of the black pick-up truck reportedly mounted the sidewalk and struck five family members, killing four (teenage girl and her mother, father and grandmother) and leaving one (a nine-year-old boy, the youngest of the family) seriously injured.
A police detective said the vehicle took off southbound “at a high rate of speed.” Approximately five minutes later, he said the driver stopped the vehicle at Cherryhill Village Mall at Cherryhill Boulevard and Oxford Street West, which is about 6 km away from the scene.
“We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith,” said London Police Chief Steve Williams, as reported in national media. He called it a “devastating loss” for the community.
The driver — a 20-year-old man from the local area — was arrested by police, found to be wearing “a vest that appeared to be like body armour” and that there was “evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act motivated by hate… it is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” said a local detective.
The arrested driver has been charged with four counts of murder, and one count of attempted murder.
According to police there is no known previous connection between the suspect and the victims.
Comments today included NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh saying that “no one should ever feel unsafe in their community and neighbourhood”. He said today on CTV’s Power & Politics that Canada must do more to tackle hate crimes and extreme right radicalization upon the tragic events in London. “Radicalization from the extreme right, hate groups, and white supremacists are a real and urgent threat to safety right now,” he said.
June 8 update:
In the House of Commons on Tuesday June 8 there were comments from party leaders and a moment of silence to remember the victims. Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his remarks to media said that Canadian society needs to continue fighting back against hate. He delineated — in response to a media question — that there is very much a difference between free speech (enshrined in the Constitution) and hate speech (which is a crime in Canada).