On top of all the stress related to the pandemic, two groups in Alberta have faced hate against them recently. Calgary Police report that people are using COVID-19 related threats to target minorities. Police have already made one arrest but other anonymous instances are harder to trace.
In a news release, Calgary Police Service (CPS) said that groups are "weaponizing" COVID-19 claims to attack or threaten certain groups of people.
“When people are already dealing with the stress of COVID-19, adding more fears and stress can do very real damage to their mental and emotional health," said Craig Collins, Hate Crimes Coordinator with the CPS, "it’s unacceptable.”
Police gave two examples of cases they are investigating that were directly related to the pandemic.
In one instance, someone commented on a popular Indigenous Facebook group. The commenter claimed that they were going to contract and spread novel coronavirus and other illnesses like Ebola to a reserve. He threatened to "wipe out the species," according to the CPS statement.
VICE reported that the threat was first sent as a private message but later became public on the group page. CPS were alerted by Indigenous Elders and they made an arrest on Friday, March 27.
The second instance of COVID-19 related threatening was against a Calgary restaurant. On Saturday, March 14, a local Chinese restaurant got an anonymous threat over the phone.
Police did not release details but said that it was likely a threat "motivated by current events."
Police were called and eventually found a suspect, but no charges were laid and the investigation is still ongoing
We reached CPS for comment. This article will be updated when we hear back.
In Canada, threatening someone can land you up to five years behind bars.
And, If the threats were motivated by "bias, prejudice, or hate based on nine personal characteristics of the victim," it can be classified as a hate crime.
This could get you in even bigger trouble with the court.
#HATEISAVIRUS is a movement to combat racism and xenophobia against Asians fueled by COVID-19. Learn more and join… https://t.co/TGPxbBD24w— Nancy Wang Yuen 王嵐芝 (@Nancy Wang Yuen 王嵐芝)1585601257.0
Despite these new developments in Alberta, most people have been supportive of each other through this crisis.
Between giving free meals and cheering for health care workers, there's a lot to be inspired by, too.