Hate Crime Charges Added to Mischief in Calgary Graffiti Case

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Two people accused of spray painting allegedly racist messages in a Calgary LRT station are now facing hate crime charges in addition to the original charges of mischief to property.

Section 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada reads:

(1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of
    (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
    (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of
    (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
    (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

With the Crown prosecutors in this case determining that the message contained in the graffiti fits the definition spelled out in the law, the accused face a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment if they are found guilty of this crime.

No Calgary defence lawyer who isn't intimately involved with the case should comment on the potential legal outcomes of this case. What can be said, though, is that the diverse population of Calgary deserves to live in a city free of hate—and those who have somehow come to think that hateful messages would be seen positively by anyone also deserve better.

Whatever the outcome of this incident, let us hope it helps all involved and Calgary as a whole move past hatred to understanding, cooperation, and forgiveness.

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