RCMP are investigating following an incident in South Surrey in which a young man was caught on video using a racial slur against a South Asian man. However, it is members of the public who have allegedly issued threats and damaged property who could face charges, say police. (File photo)

Reaction to South Surrey racial-slur video could lead to charges: RCMP

Police say incident itself not a hate crime, but public response could be deemed criminal

Surrey RCMP have opened an investigation in connection with a recent incident caught on video of racial slurs being hurled at a South Asian man.

The language used in the altercation, which occurred in South Surrey, was “very disturbing,” Cpl. Elenore Sturko said Wednesday (June 17), however, it does not meet the threshold of a hate crime. Police investigation determined the racialized comments were reactive and not a result of someone being targeted because of their race, she said.

Still, “it’s not acceptable and by not forwarding a report to Crown Counsel or charging, it’s not an endorsement of that behaviour,” Sturko added.

Actions that followed in the aftermath of the video being posted online, however, do have potential to lead to charges, she said.

Sturko said the incident occurred on May 29. It began began as a driving dispute and escalated into a verbal confrontation in which one of the people involved used a racial slur, she said.

READ ALSO: Surrey youth say discrimination, racism on the rise: survey

Video of the incident was posted online shortly after, but then was removed by the original poster, Sturko said. However, it recently resurfaced as a result of sharing on social media – and has been viewed more than 200,000 times since.

“As a result of that, I can tell you that there has been some threats associated to that video,” Sturko said.

“We don’t have sufficient evidence to go forward with any type of a hate crime… but we will be looking into allegations of harassment, intimidation and uttering threats against parties in that video.”

Both sides involved in the matter spoke to Peace Arch News. (PAN confirmed the identities of those involved, but due to the ongoing sensitivity of the situation, has chosen to not publicly name them or share the video.)

READ ALSO: Multiculturalism grants advance anti-racism across B.C.

As of Thursday morning (June 18) the situation remained a source of significant distress for both sides.

The father of the young man who made the offensive comments described his son’s words as “horrible… words that should have never, ever been said… no matter what happened.” They were made “in an angry moment,” he said.

However, the video shows only part of what transpired, he continued, and that – along with a related Facebook post – is leading others to take “malicious action,” including threats and property damage. The man said his son’s comments shouldn’t be downplayed, but that the reaction to them has gone too far.

In a letter to the victim shared Thursday afternoon, the young man says his comments were out of character, inappropriate and hurtful, and that he will feel the shame of what he did “forever.”

The son of the man at whom the comments were directed said the situation has caused extreme duress to his family, and that any apology at this point feels like damage control.

At the same time, he said he does not condone the public’s response towards his neighbours, and appealed for calm.

What happened deserves attention “for sure,” he said.

“But (the family) do not deserve the hateful actions. There are other ways of getting justice and action, and the public knowledge has been enough.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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