July 7, 2016
An indigenous woman in Calgary, who yelled “I hate white people” before punching a white woman in the face did not commit a racially motivated hate crime, a judge has ruled.
Provincial court Judge Harry Van Harten, in a written decision, said Tamara Crowchief’s motivation for striking Lydia White was not related to racial bias.
Crown prosecutor Karuna Ramakrishnan, who had sought a sentence of 12 to 15 months, argued Crowchief’s unprovoked attack last Nov. 1, amounted to a hate crime.
But Van Harten agreed with defence counsel Adriano Iovinelli that there was insufficient evidence to establish Crowchief attacked White because of the colour of her skin.
Van Harten said unlike offenders in several cases cited by Ramakrishnan, there was no suggestion Crowchief was associated with any group that promoted hatred toward a specific race.
“The offender said, ‘I hate white people’ and threw a punch,” Van Harten said in his ruling.
“There is no evidence either way about what the offender meant or whether . . . she holds or promotes an ideology which would explain why this assault was aimed at this victim,” he said.
“I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that this offence was, even in part, motivated by racial bias.”
White was outside Jaimieson’s pub on 17th Avenue S.W., with a friend when an acquaintance of Crowchief’s approached and asked for, and was given, a cigarette.
As White and her male friend spoke to that woman, Crowchief approached and, without warning, yelled “I hate white people” and punched her in the face, knocking out a tooth.
Crowchief and the woman then walked away, but White and her friend followed and called police, who arrived a short time later and arrested the offender.
During her arrest, Crowchief told police “the white man was out to get her.”
In her victim-impact statement, White said she still doesn’t comprehend what motivated her assailant.
“I still get angry when I think about it,” she said.
“I don’t understand why this woman did this. I never did anything to her. Never even spoke to her,” she said.
Van Harten agreed with Iovinelli the more than six months Crowchief had spent behind bars, which he equated to a 9 1/2-month sentence, was sufficient jail time for Crowchief.
He placed the city woman on 12 months probation and ordered her to get psychological and psychiatric counselling, as well as counselling for substance abuse.
She must also abstain from consuming intoxicating substances and is prohibited from going to any business whose principal sale is alcohol.
Source: Calgary Herald