The Calgary Police Service has stated that they have received reports of two COVID-19 related threats since the pandemic began.
A release from CPS states that both incidents are currently under investigation, and that “threats connected to a pandemic have an even greater impact on victims because they further undermine a victim’s already fragile sense of safety.”
One threat was allegedly made to a local Chinese restaurant from an anonymous person that police believe to have been motivated by the pandemic. Police have identified a suspect but have not yet laid charges.
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“We continue to take seriously threats that target people because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, sexuality or other similar characteristic,” the release states.
The second case being investigated is in relation to a man who allegedly threatened to spread the coronavirus to Indigenous people. The threat was allegedly made in a comment on an Indigenous social media group.
Charges of uttering threats have since been laid against a suspect following a joint investigation between CPS, the Tsuut’ina Nation Police Service, and Blood Tribe Police Service.
“This is a time when we should all be coming together to encourage one another and keep everyone safe,” said Constable Craig Collins, Hate Crimes Coordinator with the Calgary Police Service, in the release.
“It is unacceptable that some members of our community are weaponizing this pandemic to make others feel even more vulnerable than everyone already does. We won’t ignore it.”
The release notes that a person can face charges in Canada for threatening to cause bodily harm to someone else, someone’s animal, or someone’s property — even if there is no plan to carry out the threat.
“While making a threat towards a stranger may not seem like a big deal to some, it leaves victims shaken and worried that someone is actually out to get them,” said Const. Collins in the release.
“When people are already dealing with the stress of COVID-19, adding more fears and stress can do very real damage to their mental and emotional health. It’s unacceptable.”