By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
A 21-year-old Toronto man has been arrested after an undercover sting found he was involved in “hate-motivated mischief” and other serious criminal offences, Toronto police announced Wednesday.
Deon King, who police say has been linked to at least 15 hate-related incidents since October, was charged with 31 counts of mischief, four counts of sexual assault and seven counts of sexual interference, among other charges.
The acts ranged from vandalism and assaulting transit personnel to damaging a hijab in a school. In some cases, police said, the crimes were aimed at targeting Muslim women or Muslims in general.
“To accuse or label anyone by the actions of a few will never be OK,” said Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Strachan. “I am especially concerned when it’s targeted at a group that has a right to be protected.”
Police had previously announced on Tuesday the arrest of Muhammad Kato, 20, on three counts of mischief over $5,000. They also called on the public to come forward with information about King’s identity.
Strachan said the hate crimes were not justified in any way.
“The most common motive or theme when these acts are being committed is related to the perceived immigration status of the persons who have been victimized,” she said.
King had also been charged earlier this month for causing damage to a vehicle with the intent to prevent a person from using it, she said.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Parliament Hill is a popular spot for Muslim women to pose for selfies on National Day of Canadian Muslim Women. Laundry lines form in the front yard, and the view is awash in colour from sidewalk-side balconies.
But since early October, some makeshift jihadists have turned the photos into posters, calling for Muslims to leave Canada. So far, at least three women have responded to the intimidation by taking off their hijab.
These are some of the photos:
Strachan said during a news conference that the number of hate crimes this year is three times what was recorded last year. The Police Association of Ontario has reported that hate crime cases have gone up in Canada by 19% in the past year.
Meanwhile, some Canadians have written about the rise of far-right movements in Canada. This has led to concerns about “possible increases in racist, nationalist and anti-Semitic actions and rhetoric.”