“Use of racist language is not, in of itself, necessarily a criminal offense,” says Criminal Justice Branch spokesperson
BY RATTAN MALL
THE Crown has reviewed the charges of assault recommended by Surrey RCMP against Jennifer Johansen, who allegedly attacked a South Asian animal rights protestor at the Cloverdale Rodeo and hurled racist abuse that the victim taped on her cell phone and uploaded on YouTube, and decided that no charges will be laid against her.
Criminal Justice Branch’s Communications Counsel Neil MacKenzie told Asian Journal on Monday that Crown “reviewed all the available evidence and, despite the offensive nature of the conduct in the video, Crown was not satisfied that the evidence that’s currently available is sufficient to support any criminal charge.”
When I told MacKenzie that I found that a bit strange because of the video evidence and the Johansen herself admitting on TV that she did use the term “shitskin,” he replied: “Certainly there’s offensive language that’s used in the video, but what Crown looks at in the case in particular is whether there was any evidence of conduct that was criminal, in particular whether an assault could be proven to have taken place in the circumstances of the incident.”
He added: “The use of racist language is not, in of itself, necessarily a criminal offense,” even though it may be considered inappropriate personal conduct.
He noted: “The Criminal Code offences that relate to publicly promoting or inciting hatred are not really applicable in the circumstances of what was taking place. And the Crown looking at the evidence as a whole concluded that it wasn’t sufficient basis to establish that an assault had occurred or that any physical altercation wasn’t a consensual fight.”
I asked MacKenzie: “So if it’s a consensual fight, then you can’t charge somebody with assault?” and he replied: “That’s correct, if a fight is a consensual matter, depending on some circumstances. If a person suffers significant bodily harm in the course of that, there may be a charge. But parties can sometimes become engaged in a consensual fight that doesn’t result in an assault charge.”
I told MacKenzie: “So you are basically telling me like if I come across a person from country “A” and I call him all sorts of names, I can’t be charged for that,” and he replied: “No … You don’t want to necessarily talk generally and hypothetically, but the racist language, in of itself, is not necessarily something that’s a criminal offence. … There are some provisions in the Criminal Code that deal with what’s referred to as hate propaganda but they refer to inciting hatred against a group and willful promotion of hatred. But it involves action that goes beyond merely – and it’s not to minimize the offensive language – but it’s something that goes beyond offensive language: an actual inciting and promoting of hatred towards another group.”
LAST May, Surrey RCMP had announced that they were recommending charges of assault against Johansen.
That cooled off many South Asians and others, including white people, who were furious that the woman used the racist term “shitskin” for brown people.
The victim, Shukria, wrote on YouTube: “I was protesting the cloverdale rodeo may 18/13 and this lady did not like my sign. She called me racist names, spat on my face, then grabbed me by my hair punched me and kicked me.”
Shukria was carrying a sign that read: “Rodeo ….. when coward boys have fun.” The white woman threatened to beat up Shukria and told her to go back to her country if she didn’t like what was going on at the rodeo. She also said she would “blow your f—king country up.”
She referred to South Asians as “shitskin”!
Thanks to the exposure on YouTube video, Johansen had no choice but to come forward as police were looking for her, too.
In an interview on Global TV, in which she didn’t show her face, she revealed that it was pretty common for her white companions to use terms such as “shit skin” for South Asians. Johansen admitted she made racist remarks and said that it was “a stupid fight” and that if the protestor “wanted an apology, I’ll give her an apology.”
She claimed that the protester told her ‘I’m not a Hindu, I’m Muslim, and I’m a terrorist and I’m going to bomb your house,’ and that is when she lost her temper.