Police in Edmonton say they are investigating two separate hate-motivated attacks against Muslim women on the same day.
The first took place around noon on Wednesday at the University of Alberta transit centre when a 19-year-old woman wearing a hijab was approached by an unknown man.
Police say the suspect made racial comments, then became aggressive toward her, but a transit employee intervened and the man left before any assault occurred.
The second attack took place just over an hour later along Whyte Avenue, a popular pedestrian street, where a 27-year-old woman wearing a burqa was walking alone on the sidewalk.
Police say a man ran across the road, stopped in front of the woman, blocked her path and yelled insults at her before he crossed the street again.
The woman thought he was gone so she kept walking, but police say he came up behind her, pushed her to the ground and made threats to kill her and tear off her burqa.
“These recent attacks, in addition to the December attacks at Southgate Mall, all happened in public areas and in daytime, which shows an extremely alarming trend threatening the safety of the Muslim community,” Sgt. Gary Willits of the hate crimes and violent extremism unit said in a news release.
“We recognize the impact and trauma of these attacks are significant to the victims, their loved ones, and the broader community. We will be working closely with community leaders to seek solutions.”
On Dec. 8, two women wearing hijabs were sitting in a car at Southgate Mall’s parking lot when a man came up to the passenger side and began screaming. They said the man shattered a window, then chased and knocked the passenger to the ground as she tried to run away.
The second woman tried to help, but she was also pushed to the ground as she tried to stop the assault.
Richard Bradley Stevens, 41, was charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief. His trial date has been set for Aug. 18-19 in Edmonton provincial court.
Another woman was charged in what police said was a racially motivated attack near the mall eight days later.
In that case, a 23-year-old woman wearing a hijab had just entered the transit station when she was approached by a woman who yelled at her and tried to hit her on the head with a shopping bag. The woman was able to run away and an Edmonton Transit Service peace officer called police.
Rene Ladouceur, 32, was charged with assault with a weapon.