'Vitriolic hate': WRPS investigating after virtual vigil for London family Zoom-bombed with racist, homophobic messages

Waterloo regional police are investigating after a virtual vigil for the Muslim family killed in London was 'Zoom-bombed' with racist and homophobic content.

About two hours into the digital vigil, held on Zoom and hosted by the Coalition of Muslim Women Kitchener Waterloo, individuals interrupted the event with racist and homophobic comments, police say.

Organizers paused the vigil while the persons responsible were removed from the Zoom call.

Waterloo regional police's cybercrime unit is investigating, while members of its equity, inclusion and diversity unit are offering support to the Muslim community.

"Islamophobia and all forms of hate have no place in Waterloo Region," reads a release from Waterloo regional police. "Everyone deserves to be and feel safe in our community."

The Coalition of Muslim Women says the vigil was attended by more than 800 people, including political, community and faith leaders.

"The vigil was held so that community members could lean on each other and comfort each other in the wake of this terrible tragedy," the coalition said in a release. "It was unfortunate though that this safe space for collective mourning was Zoom-bombed with messages of vitriolic hate."

The coalition called the comments homophobic, Islamophobic and racist, particularly toward Black and Arab communities.

"The CMW acknowledges the trauma and pain the comments caused to the participants and are truly sorry that anyone had to experience it," the group said. "The incident reiterated the sense of insecurity Muslim and racialized communities feel in the physical world, as well as in virtual spaces."

The digital vigil was in honour of four Muslim people, all from the same family, killed in London in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a terrorist attack.

The family was out for an evening walk Sunday when police say a man drove his truck into them. A 20-year-old man is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

A nine-year-old boy, now orphaned, remains in hospital.

Anyone in the community in need of mental health supports is urged to contact the Coalition of Muslim Women.

The coalition is also joining many other Muslim groups in calls for a national action summit on Islamophobia.

"The Muslim community is tired of the constant microaggressions as well as the physical and structural violence they have to endure on a regular basis," the coalition said. "We call for an end to the culture of exclusion, hate and alienation that Canadian Muslims are subject to – which in turn makes them vulnerable to violent attacks."