Calgary Police have charged a man in connection with an alleged spitting incident that is believed to have been hate-motivated.
The incident occurred on the Rainbow Crosswalk at the intersection of Centre Street and Stephen Avenue Mall S.W., around 1 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020. A Drag King recording a video was spit on by a man walking past. Video footage and CCTV from the area was collected and a photo of the suspect was released to the public.
Police say there were three potential hate-motivated crimes that targeted Calgary’s gender and sexually diverse community.
The first incident relates to a report that a man was assaulted near the intersection of 17 Avenue and 12 Street in the middle of the day on Friday, July 31, 2020. It is alleged that a group of men attacked the victim while calling him homophobic slurs and then fled.
The second incident occurred around 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, on the Rainbow Crosswalk at the intersection of Centre Street and Stephen Avenue Mall S.W. A Drag King recording a video was spat on by an unknown man walking past.
The third incident occurred around 5:30 p.m., on Monday, Aug. 3. A same-sex couple was walking near the intersection of 9 Street and Memorial Drive N.W., when two men and two women on electronic scooters approached them. An altercation occurred and it is believed the two men on scooters assaulted the couple because of their sexual orientation. A belt, rocks and a recycling bin were used as weapons and then the group fled.
Calgary Police officers arrived shortly after and searched the area but could not locate the group. The victims received medical care for non-life-threatening injuries.
Information from the public helped identify a suspect who Calgary Police now believe to be the man in the video. The man was arrested on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, with the assistance of the Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service.
Craig Brendon McGillis, 37, of Tsuut’ina, Alta., is charged with one count of assault.
Hate-motivated crimes are recognizable crimes, like assault, theft, vandalism or any other crime, where the offender was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate that is based on one of nine personal characteristics of the victim.
These types of offences not only harm the victim but can have larger impacts in the community. They can leave others who share the same characteristic concerned that they too may be targeted, which undermines their feeling of safety in the city.
Any evidence of a hate motivation is considered by the courts after a person is found guilty of the connected crime. If the judge decides during sentencing that hate was a motivation for the offence, it is an aggravating factor that can add to the convicted person’s sentence.