Toronto police arrest man in connection with two anti-Semitic incidents

Toronto police arrest 32-year-old following two incidents in which anti-Semitic slurs were hurled at victims.

Elad Benari ,

Toronto police
Toronto police

Toronto police have arrested a man in connection with two separate incidents in which anti-Semitic slurs were hurled at victims, CBC reported on Thursday.

The first incident occurred on July 6, when police were called to Stanley Park in the King Street West and Walnut Avenue area around 8:00 a.m.

Police say 32-year-old Michael Park was seen with a drawing of a swastika on his chest, and allegedly yelled anti-Semitic slurs at a person, before throwing an object at them.

He was arrested nearby and charged with assault with a weapon as well as two municipal bylaw infractions related to behavior in parks.

Four days later, police say a separate victim encountered the same man, this time in the Yonge Street and Glen Elm Avenue area. Again, the suspect displayed a drawing of a swastika on his chest and was heard yelling anti-Semitic slurs at three Jewish women, according to the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

When the victim confronted the man about his language, he was punched multiple times.

Park was arrested not far from the scene and charged with one count of assault. He appeared in court at Old City Hall on Saturday and was set to appear by video again Thursday, according to the CBC.

On Wednesday, CIJA and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto expressed concern over the two incidents.

"Like all members of society, Jews should be able to walk down the street with confidence in our safety and security. We are grateful for the immediate response of the Toronto Police Service to these incidents,” the two organizations said in a statement.

“Antisemitism is a scourge that is quickly spreading throughout Canada and around the world. Over the past few months, Jewish Canadians - already the most targeted religious minority in this country according to Statistics Canada - have witnessed an alarming rise in hate-motivated harassment, vandalism, and assault. From Jewish owned businesses, to schools, to workplaces and unions, antisemitism is of ever-increasing concern for Jewish Canadians,” they added.

"As we approach the Government of Canada's Emergency Summit on Antisemitism, we are reminded that what starts with Jews, never ends with Jews. Combating antisemitism is not only about protecting members of the Jewish community; it is essential to insulating all of us from the threat hatred poses to the very fabric of our society.”

Police say both incidents are being investigated as hate-motivated.

Toronto has been hit by a series of anti-Semitic attacks in recent weeks. In May, B’nai Brith Canada reported that for the third week in a row, anti-Semitism and support for terrorism were on display at a massive protest in downtown Toronto.

A week earlier, at another downtown Toronto protest, attendees threatened Jews by recalling the Battle of Khaybar, in which the ancient Jewish community of Arabia was killed or expelled.

In early May, a Jewish-owned business in the Kensington Market area was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti which included references to gas chambers.

Several weeks ago, Toronto police launched an investigation after chairs in Downsview Park were spray painted with swastikas.

Toronto Police Service and the Regional Municipality of York Police Services Board recently released a report which found that in 2020, reported hate crimes in Toronto increased by more than 50%, while reported hate crimes in York Region increased by 20%.