'No repercussions': Community members blast lack of charges in connection to hate-motivated posters
Some community members are raising concerns after no charges were laid in connection to racial and hate-motivated posters that were distributed around Waterloo Region in recent weeks.
The posters promoted White Lives Matter and sparked an anti-racism rally in May in Wilmot Township.
The signs circulating around Wellesley Township, Wilmot Township and Kitchener and left some on edge.
“It obviously made me feel a little bit less safe in my hometown,” said Nigel Gordijk, a New Hamburg resident.
Wellesley Township’s Mayor, Joe Nowak, said he was shocked when he saw the signs on his community mailbox.
“Disappointed that this has come to this community,” Nowak said.
According to Waterloo regional police, following an investigation, they identified the subject responsible for the posters.
After consulting with the Crown’s Office, police determined there was no reasonable prospect of conviction in the court process and no criminal charges will be laid.
“After concluding our investigation, we consulted the Crown Attorney on whether any of the Hate Crime sections of the Criminal Code or any other criminal offence could be applied in this investigation. After that consultation, it was confirmed that there was no basis for a criminal charge in this matter," Waterloo regional police said in a statement.
“I’m disappointed for sure but I can understand,” Nowak said in response to the fact that no charges would be laid.
“It doesn't seem like the literature or the communication rose to the criminal standards,” said Kitchener criminal lawyer Lakin Afolabi.
Afolabi said it comes down to freedom of expression, a Canadian right.
“There are a lot of things that people say that are offensive, distasteful, even morally wrong. And we have rights to say those things. You may not be included in polite society if you say those things but it’s certainly not criminal,” Afolabi said.
Some raised concerns via social media and believe more should have been done.
“He hasn’t been charged. And there will be no repercussions for him means that he could just continue to do what he’s doing which is cause fear in the community and making people who aren’t white feel less welcome here,” Gordijk said.
Police acknowledge the harm and concern the posters caused in the community and denounce all forms of hate and racism.
“Doesn’t represent the community as a whole and they are not wanted out here. They’re not welcome out here,” said Nowak.
Community members hope the hate-motivated signs stay out of their neighbourhoods.