CTV News Toronto
Police in Toronto are searching for a group of teenagers accused of attacking and insulting another group of Jewish teens in North York, allegedly over their religion.
The boys were walking near Fairholme Avenue and Bathurst Street at around 8 p.m. Sunday when, as they passed another group of teens, the boys were subjected to “derogatory comments” about their religion.
Police say the four victims, all about 17 years old, were dressed according to their faith at the time.
“They were being made fun of based on what they were wearing,” Toronto police spokesperson Katrina Arrogante told CP24. “They were wearing their yamakas on their heads – aside from that I’m not quite sure what their basic outfit was, but that was the comment that was being made to them and that’s when the assault occurred.”
At some point, two of the four boys were attacked. Police allege the victims were punched and kicked and at least one item – a pair of sunglasses – was stolen from one of the victims.
The two boys who said they were assaulted told CP24 the suspects started “chanting things and screaming things” as soon as they spotted the group.
“As a Jew and as a religious Jew, as an observant Jew in Canada, which officially accepts all religions, all races, everybody, to be attacked physically just because I’m a minority is a thing that should have been part of history, it happened once, it shouldn’t have happened again,” one of the two boys said.
“I’m very offended but I’m still a proud Jew and nothing is going to knock me down because we sometimes have to go through it and it makes us stronger,” the second boy said.
The suspects eventually split up and left the area before help arrived.
At least one of the suspects was located by police. It’s not clear what charges, if any, they may face.
The victims were treated on scene for varying injuries. They later told police that they did not know their attackers.
Police are now searching for at least nine suspects, described only as being in their early teens. Few other any details about the suspects has been released.
In a news release, police indicated they’re investigated the alleged attack as a possible hate crime and robbery.
Noah Shack, Vice President of The Centre of Israel and Jewish Affairs in the Greater Toronto Area, issued a statement Monday afternoon saying the centre was “deeply disturbed to learn of this vile assault on Jewish teens in Toronto.”
“Jewish Canadians should never fear wearing their Kippah in public. We are grateful to the Toronto Police Service for its rapid and professional response.”
The CEO of B’nai Brith Canada called the incident “extremely serious” and said that the organization is in contact with the victims.
“It’s very traumatizing, especially for students – younger people, to go through something like this,” Michael Mostyn told CP24. “We need to do better as a society to find real consequences against the purveyor of hatred so that when those consequences are seen hopefully it will stop individuals from picking on others because they are different.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory tweeted about the incident, urging anyone with information to contact investigators.
“No one should ever be attacked for their religion,” he said.
Anyone with information about the incident or anyone who was in the area and witnessed the attack is being asked to contact Toronto police or Crime Stoppers anonymously.